Your arrangement with your employees is built on trust. They spend their days involved in company operations and performing tasks; in return, you pay them for their time. So when your employees aren’t beginning their shift on time or are leaving early, they’re completing less work than what their wages entail. That’s why setting and enforcing clear policies for staff attendance and punctuality are crucial.
Why have policies on attendance and punctuality?
The norms for workplace attendance have changed dramatically in recent years, so this is a great time to establish or revisit your company’s policies. Workplace absenteeism hurts team morale, productivity, and your business’ revenue.
In addition to the loss of output from the tardy employee, their lateness can cause trouble among the rest of your team. “Other employees may feel frustrated by colleagues who routinely show up late,” points out Shelley Frost of the Houston Chronicle Small Business. “If the issue isn't addressed by management, a sense of preferential treatment may occur because a colleague is getting away with unprofessional behavior.”
Creating effective and reasonable expectations
A good attendance policy defines what punctuality looks like in your workplace, identifies how it will be tracked, establishes procedures for reporting tardiness and requesting time off, and outlines the consequences of habitual violations.
Every workplace may have a different definition of punctuality, so make sure you tune yours to your company’s particular operations. Does this mean employees must be at their work stations and logged into the system by the start of their shift or that they are simply inside the building? How do your standards compare for in-office personnel versus remote workers? Will employees will be required to make up missed time?
To make a reasonable attendance policy, make sure it’s flexible enough to accommodate emergency situations or last-minute cases. Also verify it doesn’t violate state and federal laws, such as workers’ compensation, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Make sure work expectations promptly expire at the end of the shift. Don’t compel workers to stay late repeatedly or take their work home if it affects their work-life balance. You can’t expect employees to respect your time if you don’t respect theirs.
Get feedback on your planned policy from your supervisors and some honest, trustworthy employees before rolling out the final vision. This will help confirm that your directive is feasible and reasonable to your staff, which can increase buy-in.
Launching your policy
Once you establish your attendance policy for your company, you need to broadcast it to your staff. Rather than sending a company-wide email, Frost recommends gathering all employees at a mandatory meeting to discuss the punctuality policy. At the meeting, “ask each employee to sign a copy of the policy as verification that they understand the policy.”
Everyone on staff should have the ability to easily locate a copy of the lateness policy in the future so they can consult it whenever necessary. Refresh the staff periodically at team meetings if you see everyone gradually softening on their punctuality. Be clear and consistent about how time will be tracked, such as time clock software, door reports, etc. Have supervisors note late arrivals and habitually tardy employees.
Once you have communicated the expectations among all of your teams, immediately begin enforcing those rules. Apply the rules fairly and consistently throughout the workplace. It’s tempting to hold your staff to policies that you yourself don’t follow as a director or executive, but such double standards quickly incite frustration among staff. Personnel on all levels of management should observe these punctuality standards.