Checking the time

HR Advice for Managing Employee Punctuality and Attendance Policies

Using access cards to swipe in and out of the workplace is one way of monitoring employee attendance. But without punctuality and attendance, they’ll only be so effective. If lateness, no shows, early exits and routine absences are a problem – especially during the pandemic – then an employee attendance policy can help to clear things up.

As a way of limiting issues with lateness and attendance, an employee attendance policy helps to boost punctuality and productivity in the workplace. Here, we’ll show you how to plan, implement and monitor a proper policy for your employees.

What is an employee attendance policy?

An employee attendance policy is a set of rules and guidelines that outlines how an organisation handles absenteeism and lateness, along with sick days. It’s designed to prevent absences, set standards for expected time management at work and improve staff productivity. An employee attendance policy also makes clear the actions that will be taken when these policies are violated.

And of course, these rules are to be followed by everyone. Managers and business owners can lend credibility to an attendance policy, and ensure its effectiveness, by leading by example.

Creating an effective employee attendance policy

Weigh up the workplace culture

Every workplace will have its own culture, and often, this culture will play a role in its attendance policy. For instance, a business that’s entirely remote and employs workers across different time zones is going to differ from an onsite operation.

Talk with employees and management ahead of creating the policy. As well as allowing them to provide their own input, it’ll help you to keep the messaging consistent and effective. For instance, if one manager expects people to be working at 9am on the dot, but another is fine with slower starts, it won’t send a unified message.

If several employees have families, then you’ll also have to factor this in. Can you afford a zero-tolerance attendance policy when these employees could also have emergencies or family issues to attend to?

Keep it simple

Where company policy is concerned, clarity is essential. Vague phrasing and jargon are only going to confuse things for your employees. Stick to terms that everyone can understand, such as absences, tardiness, no shows and sick days, and avoid outlining specific scenarios; your policy is bound to be too long for everyone to understand or remember otherwise.

The purpose of each section should be to briefly define an attendance issue and outline the rules that’ll help your staff remain compliant and avoid penalties. Where applicable, try using numbers rather than words to make things clearer and more comprehensible. 

Make things fair

An effective attendance policy should create discipline and improve productivity. If, however, employees feel it’s unfair and biased, then it could have the opposite effect. When it comes to assigning penalties, you should consider the impacts that certain behaviour has on your business. For instance, coming into work five minutes late is unlikely to affect the business in the same way as a full day’s absence will.

You should also weigh up what behaviour requires a verbal warning and what requires a written warning, followed by actual punishment. Looking at existing attendance policies from your industry can help here, steering you towards something you can standardise across your company.

Monitoring employee attendance

Although your attendance policy should help to reduce absences and lateness, it’s important to monitor your employees’ attendance to see how effective things are. To better manage employee attendance, try the following strategies.

Use access cards

For medium and large businesses, key cards and access cards have proven to be a super useful means of tracking attendance. With these personalised cards, employees simply use it when entering the premises and again when they leave, while a system keeps track of the entrance and exit times in a database. This also comes in handy if you need to track breaks too.

Swipe cards and RFID cards are replacing the traditional punch cards used in the past, allowing for less intrusive swiping in and out of work that your employees won’t forget to do. What’s more, since the technology that RFID cards use is contactless, employees won’t have to take such cards out of their wallets, pockets or bags to swipe in or out.

Use time tracking software

Time tracking and attendance software such as Homebase, Deputy or Buddy Punch is a great way of keeping your employees accountable when it comes to absences. This kind of software also tracks holiday time, sick leave, overtime and a host of other employment management features.

Measure performance

Employee performance generally correlates with their attendance, so try making attendance a performance issue which you measure employees against. Likewise, incentivising performance is a great way of boosting attendance. Simple rewards and recognition go a long way and can have a positive effect on improving company culture, too.

Discuss attendance issues

If the attendance of certain employees is becoming an issue, then you should discuss things with them as soon as possible. By talking things through, you may be able to identify the underlying issues that are causing the absences in the first place.

It might be the case that the employee in question is dealing with personal issues, for instance. From here, you can work together to create a plan and set out expectations that can help them work through whatever issues they may be facing.

Use an automated attendance point system

You might decide to put an attendance point system in place as part of your policy. Such systems add points to an employee’s record whenever they’re absent, late or leave early. Should employees accrue too many points, they’ll be faced with disciplinary actions. It might sound extreme, but a point system is a great way of deterring absences altogether.

This also makes it easy for your HR team to report and record absent employees, which helps deal with any mix-ups and disputes that might arise from tracking absences manually.

Swype is one of the UK’s leading plastic card and print specialists, delivering first-class service and innovative solutions. For more information on our products and services, visit the homepage or call 01744 815475.

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