How To Handle Employee Attendance Issues At Work?

  Published : January 22, 2024
  Last Updated: February 6, 2024
How To Handle Employee Attendance Issues At Work


Excessive absences are a major issue. Excessive late arrivals, missed work, and early departures by team members is a major issue across multiple industries. It doesn’t take long for absenteeism to have a negative impact on morale, productivity, and business profits.

Furthermore, absenteeism can paralyse large front-line business operations that rely on manual labour or shift work of hourly employees. According to the CDC, absenteeism-related productivity loss costs employers $225.8 billion per year annually in the United States.

How many unexcused absences can an employee have in a year?

Most employers do not permit more than eight unexplained absences in a single fiscal year. Anything equal to or greater than 8 will be enough to terminate the employee’s employment contract.

How to Address the Absenteeism Issue

Once you’ve identified the pattern of excessive employee absenteeism, it’s time to sit down with your team members and have a one-on-one conversation. However, it’s easier said than done. The reality is that communicating clearly with an employee about excessive absenteeism (and addressing the issue head-on) can be difficult. Here are 4 tips to help you talk to your employee about excessive employee absenteeism more effectively.

  1. Communicate Attendance Policies and Absence Procedures Clearly

Use your employee handbook (which clearly states your attendance policy) to back you up as you speak with your employees about their excessive absenteeism.

Attendance and punctuality should always be listed as critical components of each employee’s job responsibilities. Remind your team members of their responsibilities when they accept this position. You can even refer your employees to the employment agreement they signed when they first started working for your company (which should clearly state absence and call-out expectations).

Communicate Attendance Policies and Absence Procedures Clearly

  1. Deal with Attendance Issues in Real Time

Don’t put off dealing with attendance issues. Allowing excessive absenteeism to continue for months before addressing it is detrimental to everyone involved. It’s the equivalent of disciplining a child two weeks after they’ve done something wrong. Delaying discipline serves no purpose and only makes matters worse when the hammer falls.

If your company policy or employee handbook states that three unexplained absences will result in a warning, be prepared to follow those rules. Your team must understand that excessive absences will be handled in accordance with the attendance policy, with no surprises or special treatment.

  1. Apply the Rules Consistently to Everyone

Speaking of special treatment, it’s critical that your company applies the rules fairly to everyone—regardless of who they are. You must ensure that no special treatment or favouritism occurs at your company. When it comes to enforcing the rules regarding excessive absenteeism, it makes no difference whether upper management or entry-level employees are involved.

Fair and consistent accountability is essential for effectively enforcing your time and attendance policy, as well as inspiring respect from other employees on your team. When everything is laid out clearly, management is held accountable for ensuring that everyone receives the same treatment.

Also Read: Building a Continuum Workplace: Healthy Employee Engagement Practices

Apply the Rules Consistently to Everyone

  1. Reward good attendance while also recognizing improvements

People enjoy being rewarded for doing good. Employees respond better to rewards and recognition than to threats and punishment, according to research. Many employees are inspired by positive reinforcement rather than fearing the negative or disciplinary action outcome. That is why it is critical to recognize when employees have improved their attendance and to publicly recognize achievements such as no unexplained absences or perfect attendance.

Make things competitive and include prize rewards to encourage excellent attendance if you really want to motivate your team. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. A small cash bonus, a $25 gift card, or even free company swag for perfect attendance for the quarter can make all the difference.

The Top 4 Reasons for Employee Absence

  1. Employee Disengagement

Employee engagement is an essential component of the work culture of the twenty-first century. In the short term, corporations will continue this practice in order to bring employees closer to their workplace. Employees who feel connected to their workplace perform better than those who do not. One of the primary causes of an employee’s unscheduled absences is a lack of employee engagement at work.

  1. Time Theft

Absenteeism does not always imply being absent from work for a full day or two. Employees who take unnecessarily long breaks, arrive late, or leave too early also indicate absenteeism. This also casts doubt on employees’ commitment to their jobs and creates a poor image of them in the workplace.

  1. Lack of Work Schedule Flexibility

Flexible working has evolved into a necessity rather than a luxury for professionals across industries. Employees have their own social and personal obligations that must be met in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In such a case, employees may miss work to follow up on their responsibilities due to a lack of a flexible working schedule.

  1. Misapplication of Seniority

Employees who have been with the organization for a long time become accustomed to its operations. Because they are senior employees, they frequently do not feel obligated to notify their colleagues of their absence. This is also a sign of workplace absenteeism. Therefore as an employer, you must keep an eye on such unplanned absences.

Also Read: Managing Absences in the Workplace: Strategies for A Productive Workplace


Managing employee absence at work requires open communication, fair policies and support. Managers should discuss employee concerns with them, understand their motivations, and offer flexibility whenever possible. Clear attendance policies must be in place and they must be consistently enforced. Employees can be motivated by encouraging a positive work environment and recognizing good attendance. Consider using progressive discipline, such as verbal warnings or written notices, to address persistent attendance issues. A balanced approach that incorporates understanding, support, and consequences can aid in improving attendance and creating a more productive workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why is attendance at work important?

Attendance is important at work because it ensures that tasks are completed on time, productivity is maintained, and the work environment is positive. It also aids in team coordination and consistent attendance demonstrates dedication to the job.

Q2. What should I do if I have a problem with my attendance at work?

If you have a problem with attendance, it is critical that you communicate with your supervisor about the reasons for your absences. Be truthful and open about potential solutions or accommodations. Try to improve your attendance, and seek advice from HR or a manager if necessary.

Q3. Can I be fired for poor attendance?

Yes, persistent attendance issues can lead to termination, but this is usually done fairly. Before firing, employers usually issue warnings and provide opportunities for improvement. It’s critical to understand your company’s policies and seek assistance if you’re having trouble with attendance.

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