How to Deal With Attendance Problems

Occasionally, life comes between an employee and their arrival at the office. Employees have families, rough days, breakfast spilled on clean clothes, and a hundred other things which might go wrong on the way to work.

It’s easy to be understanding with employees who are occasionally late but what do you do about the ones who are late all the time?

Start by trying to sympathize with their issues and then consider some strategies to help get them on track.

Causes of Chronic Tardiness

There are many reasons other than plain irresponsibility that might lead to chronic tardiness and absenteeism. Some of these may include:

  • Schedule conflicts – If your employee is a part time worker and has a second job realize that scheduling for both can be challenging. An employee needs to work full time to pay the bills so realize that this job is just as important to the employee as the other one. Try adjusting the schedule to resolve conflict.
  • Child care issues – When family members care for children, schedules can conflict. Maybe allowing for a slightly later or earlier schedule would solve the problem.
  • Commuting problems – Some employees live a long way from work and run into all kinds of unforeseen traffic situations. Giving these employees a later schedule might just make them happy and on time.
  • Lack of motivation or interest – If the job is not interesting or challenging enough, an employee may drag his feet getting through the door. Discuss this with the employee and see if there are any additional assignments or tasks which may be more fitting for this particular employee.
  • Health problems – Physical or mental conditions can make it very hard to get moving. Find out if there are any medical issues preventing the employee from getting out the door on time and make sure that they are addressed by a doctor.

First Step: Positive Reinforcement

Being a manager means dealing with peoples strengths AND their weaknesses. For some, punctuality is a problem, for others it might be friendliness or distractions. Dealing with personality differences can be challenging. Probably the best way to deal with the negatives is by focusing on the positives and reinforcing good behavior when it is done. If employees like you, they will generally want to please you, so rather than starting with strict discipline, try positive reinforcement.

Second Step: Discipline

However, if you’ve tried everything and you still have employees who abuse time off and attendance, some discipline may be in order. Once you’ve decided that you need to take the route of discipline be sure that it is issued to all employees at this point and is well documented in event of any legal processions. Start with an informal warning and then progress to a more formal verbal warning. If that still doesn’t work you can give a written warning, a suspension, and finally termination. offers some documents and reports to address this issue. First, we have tardy reports that can be printed and given to the employee so that the problem is clearly highlighted. Second, we offer disciplinary action reports in our suite of HR documents.

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