Don’t Let Absenteeism Hurt Your Business — Use Workforce Management For Attendance Policies

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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Absenteeism can hamper business growth in several ways. A staff member who is chronically tardy or absent is less productive. Their poor attendance lowers morale for others on their team. They make it difficult for the manager to create effective schedules. And, most importantly, they shortchange your customers.

Smart employers use workforce management software to create and administer attendance policies. Here is a step-by-step guide to managing employee attendance with workforce management software.

1. Create a Comprehensive Attendance Policy
2. Train Staff Members
3. Track Time and Attendance
4. Enforce the Policy

Create Your Time and Attendance Policy

Your attendance policy is an integral part of your company culture. It expresses your corporate mission. It signifies the level of professionalism you expect from everyone in your organization. As such, it should be included in job descriptions and your company policies handbook.

Be Realistic

When designing your policy, be realistic with your expectations. You can’t expect perfect attendance. But you can expect your employees to only miss work for valid reasons. You can expect your employees to notify their supervisor when they won’t be coming in.

A One-Size-Fits-All Policy May Not Work For You

It’s okay to have more than one policy. For example, you might have a different policy for salaried employees vs. hourly workers. Part-time workers might require different provisions. Shift length and job roles can affect attendance guidelines.

Your attendance policy should cover:

1. How to clock in/out (including instructions for mobile employees and telecommuters)
2. How to access time cards
3. How to access the schedule
4. How to request shift changes
5. How to request vacation time
6. What to do when you can’t come in due to illness
7. Overtime rules
8. What are acceptable reasons for absences?
9. What illnesses require a doctor’s note?
10. Instructions for returning to work after an extended illness
11. Penalties for attendance policy violations
12. Employee rights and obligations under applicable labor laws
13. Expectations for checking in while on extended leave

Using The Time and Attendance System

Workforce management software will help you track and manage time and attendance. But it can’t be effective if the employees aren’t using it correctly. Whether you have a biometric time clock, proximity clock, or online clock in portal—train your staff members on how to use it. Make sure they know whether to clock out for breaks and meals.

Workforce management software with an employee self-service portal helps employees comply with the attendance policy. Workers can check their schedule from any mobile device, night or day. Shift exchange boards work great for companies that allow their workers to trade shifts. It transfers the burden of managing shift trades from supervisors to the employees. WFM scheduling software helps managers avoid shift coverage gaps.

Tracking Time and Attendance

Workforce management tracks:

  • Clock in/out times
  • PTO
  • Meals/breaks
  • Overtime

Workforce Management = Smart Scheduling

Employee attendance affects scheduling. WFM software uses historical attendance data (listed in the previous section) to forecast staffing needs. Managers can create complex schedules quickly with drag-and-drop and industry templates. When employees request vacation time, managers enter it into their workforce management scheduling system. Scheduled employee leave and team absence history guides schedule creation. As data accumulates over time, managers can forecast staffing needs more accurately.

Communicate Your Attendance Policy

This starts before employees are hired. During job interviews, explain the attendance policy. When contacting a candidate’s former employers, don’t forget to ask about attendance history. The information will be helpful when discussing your company’s policy.

Include the policy in the onboarding materials. Have each employee sign an agreement to abide by the policy. This can be helpful in case of a labor dispute down the road.

After initial training, highlight specific processes frequently. At the first of the year, remind your staff to request vacation early. Reinforce sick leave policies at the beginning of flu season.

Managers need to be trained on the policy plus enforcement actions. They also need to agree to administer discipline even-handedly.

Penalties for Violations

Many companies have a point system for attendance. Employees receive points for tardies and unexcused absences. There is no penalty imposed until the points reach a certain level.

Example Point System

Valid Absences (No Points)

Work-related injury with doctor’s verification.
FMLA, jury duty, military duty, etc.
An automobile accident on the way to work, with verification.

1 Point

Clocking out early due to an emergency.
Clocking in less than 15 minutes late.

2 Points

Clocking out early without telling a manager.
Arriving more than 15 minutes late for a non-excused reason.

5 Points

Missing work for a non-excused reason without notifying supervisor.

Administrative Actions

Employees are given warnings when they have accumulated excessive points. After two warnings, the employee can be terminated.

Points Erased For Good Attendance

Some employers remove points as attendance improves. For example, if an employee accumulates less than 5 points for a 6-month period, all of their points are erased.

If you have part-time employees who work varied shifts, you could erase points if an employee works extra hours to cover for an absent co-worker.

Rewards For Good Attendance

Many employers reward employees with stellar attendance. Rewards could include:

Paid time off
Exchanging unused PTO for cash or a gift card
Advancement opportunities


Make sure your attendance policy complies with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Pay special attention to your policies regarding health-related absences.  You may also be subject to a state or local Predictive Scheduling law. There are also local laws that govern meals and breaks.

SwipeClock Time and Attendance

SwipeClock helps employers of all sizes efficiently manage Human Resources processes. WorkforceHUB is SwipeClock’s unified employee portal.

WorkforceHUB includes:

  • Time and Attendance
  • Scheduling
  • Payroll
  • Onboarding
  • Alerts/Notifications
  • Managed Workflows
  • Benefits Enrollment
  • Employee Engagement
  • Performance Reviews
  • Integration With Third-party Apps

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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