(Editor’s Note: Thanks to @ohmap for asking a Twitter question that inspired me to write this post.)
As a HR professional, I have dealt with a plethora of employee issues: sleeping on the job, theft, sexual harassment, etc. But I’ve found over the years, there’s one issue that plagues managers more than all these other issues combined. Yep, that’s right…attendance and punctuality.
I would honestly say the majority of the employee discipline I’ve seen or been involved with has to do with either (1) people not showing up to work or (2) people not showing up on time.
Organizations have contributed to this matter with some of their pay rules. For example, I’ve worked at companies that didn’t dock your pay until you were more than 7 minutes late. But you could be written up if you were 5 minutes late. Needless to say, it’s confusing to explain to an employee that they’re being written up for being late…but still going to get paid for the time they were absent.
The second thing organizations do that confuses the attendance issue revolves around progressive discipline. Let’s say you have an employee with an attendance problem. They’re coached, given a verbal warning, and then maybe a few written warnings. The next step in progressive discipline is, of course, suspension. But if not showing up to work is the problem…why would companies give employees time off as discipline? It reminds me of an old Bill Cosby routine where his wife sends him to his room…which is where he wanted to be in the first place.
Dealing with attendance and punctuality issues are huge time wasters for management. And, they have a negative impact on productivity. But all that being said, they’re one of the hardest employee matters to deal with. Because in my experience, once employees get in that downward spiral of poor attendance, they just can’t seem to get out.
I’ve seen all sorts of action steps to correct punctuality and attendance problems – everything from two alarm clocks to having family members wake them up. Nothing seems to work. If you have some “attendance success stories”, drop a note in the comments below. It would be a huge help to managers struggling with this same issue.
Organizations should take a look at their attendance related policies and make sure they align with pay and performance guidelines. I can’t help but think consistency in this area would have a positive impact on the workplace.
P.S. Speaking of attendance – If you are in Oklahoma, there’s an event coming up that you won’t want to miss. It’s called the Festival of Hope. The event promotes the Heartline organization, whose mission is to offer compassionate listening, crisis intervention and suicide prevention. My blogging friend, Jessica Miller-Merrell, recently shared with me some alarming statistics about Oklahoma ranking 9th in the nation for annual deaths by suicide and it’s the 2nd leading cause of death among Oklahoma youth. So I offered to send this message out to spread the word not only about the event…but the importance of the cause.