Employee attendance: it’s one of the most common frustrations we hear from clients.
Attendance is important in manufacturing, logistics, and warehouse operations that rely on production schedules. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that each absence costs an average of 2.1 hours of lost productivity. And lost productivity directly affects your bottom line.
As a manufacturing leader, you understand the importance of having effective strategies in place to maintain or improve employee attendance. You also know that achieving 100% attendance isn’t realistic or attainable. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, especially when it starts becoming a recurring trend.
Learn how to create a good attendance policy for your company by understanding the common reasons for employee absences, and how to approach each one.
Most Common Causes of Employee Attendance Issues (And How to Address Them)
Attendance problems can stem from a variety of circumstances, ranging from small to serious. Pointing the underlying reasons helps address them effectively. Let’s delve into some common causes and practical solutions.
People will always have health-related absences, whether from the flu, a doctor’s appointment, or bad sushi.
Parents know all too well how kids in daycare and school settings are magnets for germs. Many childcare providers and schools have 24-48 hour symptom-free return policies, which often keeps the parent from going to work.
Some employees may be caregivers for their aging family members or have a relative with chronic health needs. This often results in needing to take time off for doctor’s visits or to provide additional care.
What your company can do:
Offer flexible work arrangements that give employees the option to make up for lost time whenever possible. This is often achievable when you have production lines running 24/7. Allow them to come in early, stay late, or even work another shift if they’re willing.
Consider providing telehealth access as part of your medical benefits. In some cases, this may not help the employee. However, it does allow them to have certain health appointments over the phone. This saves them from having to take time off work. An appointment from their car during lunch break? Convenience at its finest!
Be empathetic. We’ve all seen the meme. An employee is in a hospital bed with a cast. The boss asks, “But you’re still coming in tomorrow, right?” Don’t be that person. When your employee is ill, wish them a speedy recovery. A sick and stressed out employee is not functioning at their full potential — and that’s not good for any team.
Their car broke down and is in the shop. The person who usually drives them to work is out of town. The bus is running late, or worse, never arrived at all. And sometimes, they’re running on fumes and can’t afford to get gas until payday.
Whatever the issue, no wheels equals no work.
What your company can do:
Offer gas cards. Keep a stash of pre-loaded gas cards handy and distribute as needed. It’s a simple solution that makes a big impact.
Give them a Lyft (or an Uber, or bus fare). Many transportation companies offer online gift card purchasing (and corporate discounts). The best part? The app, email, or text instantly delivers funds to your employee.
Set up a rideshare program. If your company can set up and run a carpool program, it could help employees going through a tough time. Also, be sure to check and see if your county offers a larger ride-to-work program.
The dreaded d-word. Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of intentional employee attendance issues. Disengaged employees are more likely to skip work frequently to avoid their source of stress. They can become disengaged for a variety of reasons:
- Low pay
- Job dissatisfaction
- Lack of recognition
- Unclear or unrealistic expectations
- Ineffective leadership
- Limited growth opportunities
It’s important to find out the root cause(s) of your employee’s reasons for disengagement, and then act accordingly.
What your company can do:
Check your wages. Are you paying competitively? Conduct a wage analysis and adjust rates accordingly. Your company simply cannot afford to pay lower than competitors.
For busier seasonal or short-term projects, we’ve found seasonal differentials and completion bonuses to be effective.
Consider a role change. Job dissatisfaction is a powerful cause for disengagement. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Is it possible your employee is better suited for a different type of role within the company? Maybe they’re more productive when they’re moving instead of standing in one place for hours at a time. Ask, then act if necessary.
Recognition programs can boost employee morale and combat disengagement. Recognize and celebrate employees’ achievements and contributions regularly, both in private and in front of their peers. Offer tangible rewards, such as bonuses, gift cards, or additional paid time off to further motivate and acknowledge outstanding performance.
Customize rewards to your company culture and employees for big impact. If you have a lot of hunters who work the production line, for example, hunting gear or PTO on opening day might be more appealing than a leather padfolio or company apparel.
Invest in leadership training and support programs for managers and team leaders to equip them with the skills needed to foster engagement and a positive work culture. Encourage leaders to communicate openly with their teams, provide regular feedback, take constructive criticism, and lead by example.
Create transparent career development paths within your organization. Include opportunities for skill development, mentorship programs, and a clearly defined progression ladder. When employees see that their efforts can lead to career growth, they are more likely to stay engaged and committed.
Inadequate work-life balance
Disengagement often goes hand-in-hand with inadequate work-life balance. Employees who feel their work interferes with their personal lives may become devoted, missing work frequently and without warning.
Frequent overtime, pressure to meet production goals, and no time-off interferes takes a mental toll.
What your company can do:
Offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate employees’ personal needs as much as possible. Let them come in later so they can get their kids on the bus. Allow them to leave early to make Johnny’s game. Working around their needs allows employees to better balance their work commitments with personal obligations.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Implement EAPs that provide support for personal issues, stress management, and mental health. These programs can help employees navigate life challenges and reduce the impact of personal issues on their work.
Encourage Time-Off. Back in the day, it was a badge of honor to never miss a day of work. Times have changed. Your organization’s PTO policy should be generous enough for both sick leave and personal leave. Consider offering floating time-off so employees can observe days that are meaningful to them.
Handling Attendance Issues Effectively
When team members frequently miss work, it greatly affects productivity, morale, and overall performance of the organization. To create a responsible and dependable work environment, follow these proactive steps to solve problems confidently and professionally.
Develop a fair attendance policy
While manufacturers and warehouse employees work daily with machines and automation to maintain peak efficiency — humans are not machines. They can and will miss work.
Make sure your organization has a clear and fair attendance policy that outlines expectations, along with the consequences for recurring absenteeism. Ensure that both your permanent and temporary employees are aware of the policy and its enforcement.
Address habitual absenteeism through feedback and counseling
When employees have problematic attendance issues, provide constructive feedback and guidance. Counseling can help employees understand the importance of attendance and work toward improvement.
Additionally, create channels for employees to provide you with feedback on attendance policies and expectations and listen to their concerns. Act on their feedback to make necessary adjustments to policies and practices.
Progressive disciplinary measures
As we mentioned before, there is no such thing as perfect attendance. Life happens, employees are human, and not all absences require intervention.
But when they turn into chronic attendance problems, consider progressive disciplinary measures. These include verbal warnings, written warnings, and performance improvement plans. Include termination as a last resort.
Lastly, make sure to apply these measures consistently and fairly.
Start With The Root Cause
In manufacturing and logistics, improving attendance is not just a matter of convenience; it’s a critical factor in achieving operational excellence. HR leaders and team leaders must be proactive in addressing the root causes of absenteeism. Then, you can implement strategies to promote consistency and reliability.
To reduce absenteeism and boost productivity, establish a flexible culture, offer recognition and awards, and prioritize employee engagement and well-being. Different companies may have different approaches, but the right one will make employees happier and the organization more successful.
Lastly, when employee attendance becomes a problem, a manufacturing staffing agency can help round out your warehouse, distribution, and logistics teams. Alliance industrial has helped many clients create attendance incentive programs and improve their workforce overall. Can we help you, too?