How To Improve Employee Attendance

One of the most rampant HR concerns of many companies in the Philippines is poor attendance.  Frequent absences, tardiness, under-time or even AWOL are ever prevalent and wreaks havoc to the day to day operations of any company.

Poor attendance is often attributed to an employee’s lack of self-discipline.  Sometimes, it is shrugged off as part of our prevailing culture of “Filipino time” which has come to be known as being 30 minutes late for meetings and gatherings.  Most of the time, it is blamed on heavy traffic.

Perhaps the reason for some people’s constant tardiness and absences may be attributed to a lack of appreciation for punctuality.  People fail to realize that being late affects other people negatively and it is quite disrespectful to others… That no matter how amazing you are at what you do in your job, if you are always late or absent, you really won’t be able to do much.

One of my friends, a general manager of a bank, mentioned that she had a very brilliant employee.  This employee had the pedigree and the intelligence to perform well in his job.  The problem however, is that he is frequently absent.  When the employee got a disciplinary memo, he reasoned that even if he is often absent, he gets the job done and is able to do his work.

The General Manager set him straight by saying, “Iho, I know you are good but what good are you to our company if you are not here.  Let us say you are able to give your 100% to the company when you are here, what about the days when you are not here?  Who do you think has to pitch in and cover for you while you are away?  Who has to do work for you?  Your co-workers!  And if your co-workers need to spare even a minute of their own work time in order to answer calls for you or cover for you while you are away, then they won’t be able to give 100% to their own work.  Poor Attendance shows lack of consideration and respect for the people you work for and with.”

Now, if you are a business owner, a manager or human resource officer who is faced with rampant poor attendance among your people, there are many things that you can do to solve the problem.  Here are a few ideas:

Early Bird Boss
Having a boss who arrives at the office earlier than everyone and whose office is strategically located near the entrance is quite effective in getting people to arrive early on time.  It will bring forth a culture of punctuality as the Early Bird Boss leads by example.

Reward Good Attendance
For people with perfect attendance, additional rewards may be given which may be monetary or non-monetary.  Cash rewards are practical and useful but proper recognition is also very important so that the good habit is reinforced and other people will get inspired to do the same.

Wall of Shame
Some companies also have a “Wall of Shame” for people who are excessively late.  This tends to embarrass the latecomers and frequent absentees to have better attendance.  This is a bit tricky if your employees are not good sports, but it can be effective.

Pink Slips and Memos
Pink slips for poor attendance may serve as a good warning and reminder for people to come in on time.  If after several warnings and the employee still fail to show up on time, then an interdisciplinary memo that can be filed in the person’s 201 will be very useful for employee discipline.

Fines and Penalties
Some companies use monetary fines and penalties to force people to come in on time.  Some use salary deduction calculated based from the total minutes of tardiness, while others put out a fine on being late for morning meetings.  It is costly that is why it hurts and can prove effective.

Breakfast Treat
There are employees who try their best to curb their tardiness habit.  Two of my staff, for example, made a pack personally to come in on time.  Whoever has excessive tardiness for the month will be obliged to treat the whole group.  This is a good self-regulatory tactic.

Adjusting Work Schedules
Sometimes, if you really have good people living far from your office, it may be a good idea to adjust their work schedules.  This can be possible if your operations will not be hampered.

These are just some of the simple ways that companies can improve attendance of employees.  To be truly successful in improving your employees’ attendance, however, your management must continuously cultivate a culture of punctuality.  Make your workplace bright and energetic so that people will actually feel excited to report to work early.  Encourage your people to come in on time every day.

About the Author:

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy and HR Club Philippines.  Her organization offers public seminars and in-house training on Human Resource Management and Business Skills Development.   You may email your comments and questions to: