Organizational Wellness

Six Tactics to Improve Attendance at Work

Oct 2, 2023
Last Updated Oct 2, 2023

Your company's success is the sum of your employees’ daily efforts. Every person was hired for a reason, and they each make a valuable contribution! They bring their unique experience and knowledge to your organization, all of which help move your organization forward. 

That value is exactly why they’re missed when they don’t show up to work. Absenteeism, or chronically missing work, can cause additional stress for team members or delay a department’s deliverables. To be sure, everyone needs a break now and then, but taking PTO isn’t the same as a no-show.

There are several ways to improve attendance at work, depending on whether the issue is with an individual staffer or a chronic problem across your organization. Having several tactics in your tool belt can help you prepare to address both situations. 

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  1. Create Clear Attendance Policies

Comprehensive employee handbooks help employees understand when they are expected to be at work, when the office is closed, and their paid time off (PTO) benefits. It should also outline the consequences that may occur if employees fail to attend work or continuously lack punctuality. These clear guidelines help eliminate any confusion about when and where employees are expected to work.

Your employee handbook should show employees how to request time off — from sick days to holiday — and how requests are processed. The policy should state how much of each leave employees can receive in case they can’t make it to work, such as four mental health days per year. These instructions can help managers and employees avoid any miscommunications that lead to an unexpected absence.

  1. Consider Flexible Work Hours

Flex hours can help employees balance their personal and professional responsibilities. In practice, this setup means employees need to work a certain number of hours a day, but their start and end time is up to them. (This setup is often paired with remote work for maximum flexibility.)

Flexible hours reduce burnout and stress, a study by the Future Forum found, as employees don’t have to choose between, say, going to the dentist or catching up on emails. They can go to the dentist in the afternoon and catch up on emails in the evening. Since stress is one of the main causes behind absenteeism, a study published by the Journal of Occupational Medicine found, anything that reduces workplace anxiety has the potential to increase attendance.

Discussing flexible hours with your team can be a good way to explore if this would work for your team. Your team or company policy could center on an agreed amount of overlap hours between everyone, or a set expectation on how many days to come into the office. The important thing is for employees to feel like they have ownership of their time, while still respecting working hours.

  1. Follow Up with Employees to Identify the "Why"

Managers that identify employees who are starting to be late or miss work should look into the root cause of these trends. Absenteeism could be due to a number of factors, such as conflicts in their personal life, health issues, lack of motivation, or feeling unsafe in the workplace. Speaking directly with employees can help managers grasp why an employee's attendance record has become spotty, and help them overcome those challenges.

After identifying the cause, follow-up conversations can work toward creating tailored solutions.  After all, an employee calling in sick to avoid a hostile work environment will need different support than a new parent who is missing meetings because they are struggling with increased personal responsibilities. For example, if a manager finds out a team member has been missing work to take their mother to the hospital for chemo treatments, perhaps they can adjust their workloads and project timelines. This may help avoid overwhelm, keeping that team member engaged with responsibilities that are achievable at their current capacity.

  1. Boost Employee Engagement and Attendance

The more engaged your employees are at work, the less likely they'll be absent. In fact, highly engaged employees represent an 81% decrease in absenteeism, a study by Gallup found.

This is because engaged employees are motivated by their work. They tend to see challenges as opportunities and feel valued within the organization. In turn, this means engaged employees are less likely to miss out on work days.

Boosting employee engagement doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. It's the sum of everything that makes up the employee experience: work flexibility, appreciation, employee development, psychological safety, and physical wellbeing. You can get an idea of what engages your workforce through regular employee surveys. Collecting direct input from your staff is a great first step in creating a responsive workplace that keeps them engaged by addressing their needs.

  1. Build a Culture of Teamwork and Accountability

Teams play a big part in employee engagement and attendance. Work friends and team members help employees feel accountable for their work roles and responsibilities — they want to feel like they are contributing to their community. In turn, this accountability has a snowball effect on productivity and attendance, a study by Gallup found.

By adding an emphasis on teamwork in your company, you can build a network of accountability. This means each employee will feel part of a team with a sense of belonging, and alongside it, the responsibility to pull their weight on projects. Try encouraging team spirit and accountability with team-building activities like  icebreakers, company trivia, and escape rooms escape rooms to build trust and camaraderie.

  1. Recognize and Reward Good Attendance

Rewarding employees who have a continuous track record of being present and punctual at work can have a positive effect on morale. It shows that their efforts and dedication are valued while incentivizing for others to meet attendance expectations.

Put attendance plans in place to track employee presence. It could be a simple as using a time sheet or attendance tracker. That way, when employees have hit a streak of work attendance, for example, a full month, they get a prize. Recognition can range from verbal acknowledgment to additional vacation days or even a financial bonus. 

The Health of Your Employees Impact Attendance

Improving workforce wellbeing can help you boost employee attendance. After all, wellness programs give employees the space and support they need to pursue healthy habits. This in turn improves their quality of life and prevents injuries, illnesses, and burnout that would require absent days.

It’s no surprise, then, that eighty-five percent of HR leaders say that their wellness program decreased sick day utilization, according to Wellhub’ 2023 Return on Wellbeing Report. Not coincidentally, 3 out of 4 of those same HR leaders say their wellness program reduced the cost of providing healthcare benefits. 

Even though everyone needs to be well, wellbeing looks unique for every employee. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Gym memberships, nutrition training, mental wellness resources, yoga classes, virtual meditation sessions — everyone will benefit from something different. Wellhub’ flexible subscription provides access to thousands of wellness activities that fit every wellness journey of today’s distributed workforce.

Speak with a Wellhub wellbeing specialist today about boosting employee wellness at your organization!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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