Participating in an interview for an education resource recently, I learned about teachers and absenteeism.

The editor, who interviewed me, shared that research indicates that students do better academically when their regular teacher is present, so there are compelling reasons to encourage teachers to come to work. For our purposes, however, these thoughts can apply to people who work in any professional occupation.

You will always have Gamers. Consequently, your goal with any attendance system is to honor the commitment and dedication of your employees who come to work. In organizations, people have a tendency to write policies to punish and control the behavior of the few gamers. Instead, policies should recognize that the majority of employees come to work and recognize this contribution.

Create an Effective Attendance Policy

With an effective attendance policy, first, you must have a way to track the time people take off from work so that the integrity of your Paid Time Off (PTO) policy, your sick leave policy, and / or your paid vacation policy is ensured. This also ensures that the time off rules are the same for everyone which is important for the sense of workplace fairness and justice. This is especially important to manage unscheduled absences for which many workplaces have trouble with work coverage. This is true for teachers and other employees who have work stations that must be covered.

Second, and probably most importantly, you need to manage absenteeism. This means that the employee needs to call in directly to the supervisor who is trained to manage absenteeism. This starts with the personal call and the supervisor telling the employee that they will be missed and the impact of their absence on the workplace. Each instance ends with the supervisor personally welcoming the employee back to work and once again, telling the employee about the impact of their absence on the workplace and their coworkers.

Third, if possible, allow flexibility in your workplace so that an employee with an early doctor’s appointment or a sick child, as examples, can work later or come earlier to make up the time. Women, unfortunately, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures, experience more absenteeism related to family matters. Especially single moms, with no safety net of family or a partner, struggle with attendance, in my experience.

So, this flexibility might also include the ability to share jobs, experience flexible days or hours, and work from home, or telecommute, under guidelines. I’m not a huge fan of compensatory or comp time ( because I believe it encourages a clock-watching attitude that is not in keeping with the accomplishment of the whole job and goals that I look for in an exempt or salaried employee. But, exempt jobs are the jobs that will most frequently allow flexibility.

Fourth, rewards and recognition for positive attendance can make a difference. While you don’t want people feeling as if they must be paid extra for doing their job, you do want them to know that you appreciate and respect their positive attendance. In some cases, especially with non-exempt employees, and to reduce unscheduled absences, you may want to build actual monetary rewards into your attendance policy.

Finally, I don’t even like to discuss this, but as with any employment responsibility, there must be consequences if the employee is failing. To whom is this the most important? To all of the employees who have good attendance, work hard, and find their personal motivation affected by people who fail to come to work. Progressive discipline is critical, starting with coaching and feedback, and performing the steps in attendance management listed above.

Please take a look at the Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy I’ve developed. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Image © Kelly Young

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You Will Always Have Gamers originally appeared on Human Resources on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 at 07:43:13.

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