5 Simple Steps to Address Employee Attendance Issues - Time Doctor Blog (2023)

Looking for an effective way to address employee attendance issues?

Attendance issues among employees can have a massive impact on your business if left unchecked.

Team members who are always absent can seriously affect your team’s productivity.


The rest of the team has to step up and handle the absentee’s responsibilities while juggling multiple tasks.

If you’re going to achieve your business goals, you need to address these attendance problems before they spiral out of control.

In this article, we’ll offer a simple five-step process to help you deal with employee attendance issues. We’ll also provide a smart solution to simplify the employee attendance process.

This Article Contains:

(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)

  • How to address employee attendance issues
    • Step 1: Develop a written attendance policy
    • Step 2: Gather information and evidence
    • Step 3: Encourage open dialogue
    • Step 4: Be accommodating
    • Step 5: Step up your approach
  • A smart solution to your employee attendance issues
  • Why you need to address employee attendance issues

Let’s get started.

How to Address Employee Attendance Issues

Here are some steps you can take to address employee attendance issues:

Step 1: Develop A Clear Employee Attendance Policy

Ensure you have an attendance policy that clearly explains your attendance expectations and the consequences of not following the attendance guidelines.

This way, there’s no confusion – employees are aware of what they need to avoid.

You can include your attendance policy in your employee handbook.

Here’s what you should include in the attendance policy:

  • Definition of absenteeism and tardiness.
  • A clearly defined leave policy – i.e., the definition of approved vs. unscheduled absence, unexcused absence, and PTO (paid time off).
  • Sick leave vs. personal leave.
  • Exempt and nonexempt employees as part of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) regulations.
  • FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) protected leave.
  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protected leave.

Read our article on how to create an effective attendance policy to learn more about attendance policies.

Step 2: Gather Information and Evidence

Before approaching an employee about an attendance problem, you’ll need to gather evidence of the same.

Ensure there’s a reliable system for keeping track of poor attendance.

Go through your attendance records thoroughly to check if the employee is frequently late or absent (also known as chronic absenteeism.)

This may involve going back through your attendance register, whether it’s a written copy, a spreadsheet, etc.

You’ll also have to check the number of sick days and see whether the employee provided a doctor’s note.

Additionally, you need to have proof of actual dates and times to prove excessive absenteeism.

Not only will this help you get your case across, but it will also show the employee involved that you are serious about the issue – so they are also more likely to take it seriously themselves.

Step 3: Encourage Open Dialogue

When going into a meeting to address an employee’s absenteeism, ensure you are willing to listen – the employee may have a valid reason for being absent.

Here are a few things to remember before this meeting:

  • Host the meeting in a private place, not at the employee’s cubicle where anyone can eavesdrop. If the employee works remotely, arrange a one-on-one video call.
  • Maintain a mood of curiosity and information gathering, rather than one of condemnation and threats. The goal is to solve the problem that’s causing employee absenteeism. Let the employee know you’re concerned with their well being.
  • Keep communication lines open by being available to employees (through video calls, instant messaging, etc.). This way, they can speak to you about why they keep missing work.
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Step 4: Be Accommodating

If employees have a good reason for staying off work, be accommodating and sensitive to the situation – because each one is unique and requires a different approach.

Sometimes you’ll need to be extra understanding. For example, if an employee has lost a family member or has issues with childcare, show them compassion, and give them extra time off if necessary.

Other situations may require a firmer stance, for example, when employees take a day or two off every week to recover from a weekend of partying.

In some cases, you may be able to arrange a flexible work schedule if it doesn’t affect your business and other employees. You could also consider allowing employees to work remotely, some or all of the time.

Additionally, consider rewarding good attendance, so employees have more of an incentive to come in regularly. For example – they can receive a bonus after a year’s worth of good attendance.

Read our article on how to create a flexible work schedule policy to learn more.

Step 5: Step Up Your Approach

You’ll be able to recognize when you have a serious employee attendance problem.

Assess the situation after a few weeks; if the employee hasn’t improved their attendance record, it’s time to step up your approach and address the issue formally.

Depending on the structure of your company and the rules laid out in your attendance policy, here are the steps you would have to take for formal disciplinary action:

1. Counselling With Their Manager, Supervisor or a Human Resource Representative

During these sessions, the HR professional, business leader, (or whoever is representing the company) need to lay out the company’s expectations for attendance and the seriousness of excessive absences.

2. First Formal Review: Verbal Warning or Notice

At this stage, you will discuss reasons for the unplanned absence and advise them of the same implications. You should also warn them that you may terminate their employment if there is no substantial and sustained improvement.

3. Second Formal Review: Written Warning or Notice

You should inform the employee that due to continued excessive absence, a formal written warning will be issued, and it will remain in their file for a specified period.

4. Temporary Suspension

If no improvement occurs following repeated absences, the management team may proceed with a temporary suspension, which the employee is informed of in writing.

5. Termination of Employment

If the worker does not heed the previous warnings, and the employee’s absence continues, their contract should be terminated.

A Smart Solution to Your Employee Attendance Issues

Managing employee’s attendance records can be tedious, and with traditional methods, there’s too much room for inaccuracy.

It’s time to consider a more streamlined approach – attendance management software.

This approach is a no-fail way to keep track of employee attendance.

Here are a few reasons why you should use attendance management software:

1. Increases Productivity and Accountability

You can easily keep track of the number of hours an individual works and the tasks they complete during that time.

As time worked is tracked down to the minute, it’s easier to keep track of absenteeism, tardiness, etc., and hold them accountable.

2. Improves Accuracy and Security

Traditional methods of recording employee attendance, such as signing in on a ledger, often lack security measures to protect employees’ data.

After all, with multiple employees accessing these records, anyone can easily alter information.

Employee attendance tracking solutions are tamper-proof, so you can be assured that the hours recorded are accurate.

3. Makes Remote Attendance Tracking Possible

If coming into the office is an issue (for example, due to restrictions following the COVID 19 pandemic), employees can easily work from home, and their hours can still be tracked with attendance management software.

It also eases concerns about whether remote employees are actually working when they say they are, even if they aren’t physically in the workplace.

Now that we’ve discussed the best option for managing employee attendance – let’s look at one of the best attendance tracking software available today.

The Best Tool to Address Employee Attendance Issues: Time Doctor

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Time Doctor is a leading employee productivity management software that’s used by major companies and medium and small businesses to manage employee attendance and boost team productivity.

Here are a few things you can do with Time Doctor:

  • Keep track of each employee’s time and attendance.
  • Generate detailed reports of employee performance.
  • Make use of powerful distraction management features to keep your team focused.
  • Manage payroll and invoices efficiently.
  • Monitor teams’ screens with screenshots.

Here are some Time Doctor features that make employee attendance management super easy:

A. Time Tracking

With Time Doctor, time tracking is simple for employees as well as managers.

Here’s how employees can start tracking time once they’ve downloaded the Time Doctor desktop application:

  • Type in the task name and project.
  • Click on the play button to start the timer.
  • Click on the stop button to stop the timer.

The time worked will be recorded, and managers and business owners can easily access this information.

Not only can you keep track of when employees’ workdays begin and end (or if they showed up at work,) you can also see which tasks they’re working on and the time taken for each task or project.

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B. Attendance Reports

With the attendance report, you can gather precise evidential data of employees’ tardiness and absenteeism.

You can see which of your employees are late or miss work on any day – so you don’t longer have to scramble around trying to see who’s present.

An added benefit is that it also shows you the reason for employee absence.

You can also export attendance reports as CSV. or XLS files.

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C. Work Schedules

Time Doctor’s work schedules feature lets you set shifts and/or schedules for any of your employees, making it easier to monitor whether employees were late or absent for a shift.

Here’s how it works.

For example, let’s say you set the shift as 10 am to 7 pm from Monday to Friday:

  • Employees who track time before or at 10 am are considered ‘present.’
  • Those who track time from 3 pm would be labeled as ‘partially absent.’
  • Team members who don’t track time at all will be marked as ‘absent.’

This way, you can save time managing employees’ schedules and checking attendance.

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D. Timesheet Reports

The timesheet report is another powerful attendance management feature. It shows the total amount of billable time worked by an employee either for a single day or across a range of dates.

Managers have access to their team’s timesheets so they can quickly review team working hours. Team members also have access to their own timesheets so that they can see their work hours.

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Here are some of the other reports you can generate with Time Doctor:

  • Time Use Report: Shows a breakdown of the time spent by an employee on each task for a period of time.
  • Timeline Daily Report: Shows details of how an employee’s time was spent on a specific day.
  • Web and App Usage Report: See the websites visited by a team member during work hours and the amount of time spent on them.
  • Poor Time Use Report: Can be used to determine if an employee is spending too much time on distracting apps like Instagram, Facebook, or other social media sites.
  • Projects Report: Shows the amount of time taken to complete a project.

E. Distraction Management

To keep your team focused, Time Doctor has a distraction management feature that alerts the user when they’ve gone off track.

Time Doctor monitors the apps and websites visited by your team. If it detects an employee visiting a non-work-related site, like Facebook or YouTube, an alert pops up on the user’s screen – prompting them to focus on their work.

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An alert also pops up if the employee’s computer hasn’t had any keyboard or mouse activity on for a certain amount of time.

Note: Time Doctor is not a keylogger. It only checks if any keys were pressed while the timer is running. It doesn’t record what keys are pressed.

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Why You Need to Address Employee Attendance Issues

Employee attendance infractions can have severe consequences.

Here are just a few of the consequences you shouldn’t ignore:

1. Negatively Impacts Other Employees

Chronic absenteeism can affect employee morale.


The employees with regular attendance are often stuck picking up the slack for their missing co-workers and probably doing tasks they usually wouldn’t have to do.

Due to this, the entire team would be overloaded with work and might show signs of burnout.

2. Affects Business Outcomes

In addition to low morale, high absenteeism rates affect productivity and cause teams to miss their project deadlines.

As an employer, not only is your business’ reputation at stake, so is the livelihood of everyone in the organization.

Lost productivity will also affect your company’s bottom-line in time. According to Gallup, American businesses lost around $450-500 billion due to low productivity!

Wrapping Up

Given the impact an employee attendance issue can have on a business, it’s essential to address it sooner rather than later.

You can do this by following the steps we’ve laid out here – relying on a written attendance policy, accurate attendance data, open dialogue, an accommodating attitude, and finally, commencing formal procedures.

However, if you want to simplify your attendance process further, you’ll need a dedicated attendance management software like Time Doctor. It has all the features necessary to help you manage employee attendance with ease.

So why not sign up for Time Doctor’s 14-day free trial and get one step closer to efficient attendance management?

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Liam Martin

Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.


5 Simple Steps to Address Employee Attendance Issues - Time Doctor Blog? ›

A performance improvement plan is meant to help struggling employees who are falling behind on deadlines or attendance or any other number of performance issues. A PIP outlines what an employee needs to do within a specific timeframe to continue their employment at your organization.

How do you address an employee with attendance problems? ›

  1. Clearly Communicate Attendance Policies and Absence Procedures.
  2. Show Employees You Care—Find Out Why They're Absent.
  3. Address Attendance Issues In Real-Time.
  4. Apply the Rules Fairly to Everyone.
  5. Have Documentation That Backs You Up.
  6. Praise and Reward Good Attendance While Acknowledging Improvements.
Nov 1, 2022

What is the best way to improve employee attendance? ›

How to improve employee attendance:
  1. Track staff leave.
  2. Set clear expectations.
  3. Boost morale and engagement.
  4. Reduce sick leave.
  5. Communicate with your employees.
  6. Train your supervisors in policy and procedure.

How do you manage employee time and attendance? ›

Common approaches to absence management include:
  1. Taking disciplinary action for excessive absenteeism.
  2. Verifying illness after a specified period of time.
  3. Using PTO banks to help reduce unscheduled leave.
  4. Focusing on personal recognition for employees with positive attendance records and behaviors.

How do you write a corrective action plan for attendance? ›

Here are the steps to write up an employee for attendance:
  1. Gather data. Your write up should include the employee's attendance record. ...
  2. Discuss previous measures taken. ...
  3. Explain the effects. ...
  4. Outline next steps. ...
  5. Ask for feedback. ...
  6. Deliver the write up. ...
  7. File the write up.
Mar 10, 2023

How do you address tardiness and absenteeism? ›

8 Keys to Reducing Absenteeism & Tardiness
  1. #1: Develop a policy. ...
  2. #2: Take a balanced approach. ...
  3. #3: Review time off policies. ...
  4. #4: Flexible work arrangements. ...
  5. #5: Address concerns promptly. ...
  6. #6: Consider protected forms of leave. ...
  7. #7: Consider requiring documentation. ...
  8. #8: Ensure accurate time reporting.
Mar 31, 2014

How do you fix attendance problems? ›

How to Correct an Attendance Problem
  1. Step 1: Adopt, Publish and Distribute an Attendance Policy. ...
  2. Step 2: Implement the Policy and Maintain Accurate Records. ...
  3. Step 3: Look for Trends in Absences. ...
  4. Step 4: Confront the Employee Who Is Regularly Absent. ...
  5. Step 5: Be Sensitive When an Employee is Legitimately Absent.

What are three main factors influencing attendance in workplace? ›

3 crucial factors that affect attendance at work
  • Presenteeism. Presenteeism is when an employee comes to work sick, exhausted, or distracted to the point that they can't carry out their work duties. ...
  • Negative work environment. ...
  • Personal hardships.
Nov 9, 2021

What should employers do to reduce absenteeism? ›

Here are the best strategies you can employ to reduce employee absenteeism:
  • Create a clear attendance policy. ...
  • Reward good attendance. ...
  • Address unsanctioned absences immediately. ...
  • Improve employee well-being. ...
  • Offer flexible work options. ...
  • Encourage employee engagement. ...
  • Foster a teamwork culture. ...
  • Provide feedback.

What is the PIP plan for attendance? ›

A performance improvement plan is meant to help struggling employees who are falling behind on deadlines or attendance or any other number of performance issues. A PIP outlines what an employee needs to do within a specific timeframe to continue their employment at your organization.

What are the methods of attendance management? ›

Attendance Management keeps track of your employee hours. It is the system you use to document the time your employees work and the time they take off. Attendance Management can be done by recording employee hours on paper, using spreadsheets, punching time cards, or using online attendance software for your company.

What makes a good attendance manager? ›

Building up a clear policy, explaining it to the employees, enforcing it, and staying informed on people's absences is key for efficiently managing attendance dynamics in the team.

How do you stop employees from forgetting to clock in and out? ›

Include a reminder for your employees that you expect them to clock in and out regularly, and describe the warning system when they fail to do so. In such an Employee Handbook you should also include rules about lunch time, unpaid breaks, and overtime.

How do you evaluate an employee with poor attendance? ›

5 easy tips to perform employee attendance evaluation
  1. Consider all factors of employee attendance. ...
  2. Keep an attendance record. ...
  3. Measure absenteeism and its costs. ...
  4. Give detailed feedback. ...
  5. Determine the authenticity of the reason for absence. ...
  6. Outstanding. ...
  7. Meets expectations. ...
  8. Needs improvement.
Jan 7, 2022

What is a good attendance goal? ›

Set a realistic attendance goal, usually between 2-5% higher than your 3-year average. Attendance can be a difficult metric to move dramatically in one year, as it often requires a great deal of process and cultural change.

What do you say to an employee about excessive absenteeism? ›

How to discuss the problem of absenteeism:
  • Clearly communicate policies and procedures upfront.
  • Show employees you care. ...
  • Address the issue right away, in real-time.
  • Constantly, fairly apply a points or progressive disciplinary system.
  • Praise and reward good attendance, and acknowledge improvements.
Jun 10, 2021

What are the four types of absences? ›

Here are the four types of absences you can expect, and the four best ways to respond to them:
  • Planned absence. Planned absences are the best-case scenario, because they give you the most time to prepare. ...
  • Last-minute absence. These things happen. ...
  • Unexpected absence. Uh-oh, someone didn't show up. ...
  • Virtual absence.

How do you address an employee wasting time? ›

If you want to avoid this problem and employ a productive team, here are a few ways to minimize employees wasting time at work.
  1. Set an Example. ...
  2. Set Expectations and Get on a Schedule. ...
  3. Have Regular Progress Meetings. ...
  4. Give Longer Breaks. ...
  5. Offer an Incentive.
Aug 25, 2022

What are the root causes for attendance issues? ›

Some of the main reasons for absenteeism include workplace harassment, family-related issues, illness, and job hunting. Absenteeism can result in higher costs for employers. Other employees often have to pick up the slack, which may result in a drop in morale.

What is a better way to take attendance? ›

Teaching Tip: Taking attendance in large classes
  1. Have students sign in at the door.
  2. Assign students numbered seats and have them sign a seating chart when it is passed.
  3. Cut a seating chart into segments and circulate them so that each student can print last their name.

What is an attendance improvement plan for work? ›

What is an Employee Attendance Improvement Plan? An employee attendance improvement plan is an official document that usually comes from a supervisor or manager to address an employee's excessive absenteeism (AKA the many times someone hasn't shown up to work or came in really late).

How employees with poor attendance affect the workplace? ›

Absenteeism can affect individual productivity. Simply put, if someone works less, they're likely to be less productive. Employers should consider root causes, which include burnout, disengagement, as well as those that may require accommodations, such as child care or illness.

Why is attendance and punctuality important in the healthcare workplace? ›

Punctuality and attendance are important in the workplace because they uphold productivity. People at work rely on one another to be punctual so they can work together on projects, get feedback and submit work to clients according to their expectations.

What strategy to impose to minimize the absence and work turnover of employee? ›

Invest in Professional Development Opportunities: Investing in employee professional development opportunities can help reduce absenteeism by providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their roles. This will increase job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity and reduce turnover rates.

What helps reduce employee turnover and absenteeism? ›

How To Reduce Employee Absenteeism and Turnover in the Workplace
  • Create and enforce an attendance policy. ...
  • Embrace flexible schedules. ...
  • Enhance employee engagement and communication. ...
  • Offer training and career development opportunities.
Jun 1, 2022

Why is it so important to minimize employee turnover and absenteeism? ›

Employee turnover and absenteeism can be costly for businesses, leading to decreased productivity, increased recruitment costs, and reduced morale. However, there are ways to address these issues and improve employee retention.

What is attendance expectations policy? ›

An employee attendance policy is a documented set of rules designed to improve employee productivity, reduce absenteeism, and set clear and consistent expectations for employees. For many small businesses without an HR department, an employee attendance policy can seem a bit formal.

How do you write a performance improvement plan? ›

How to write a performance improvement plan
  1. Determine acceptable performance. ...
  2. Create measurable objectives. ...
  3. Define what support the employee will receive. ...
  4. Draw up a schedule for check-Ins. ...
  5. State the consequences of a lack of improvement.
Mar 8, 2023

Does HR attend PIP meetings? ›

Human Resources (HR) will be looped in, and they will likely attend the PIP kickoff meeting. As a general heuristic, HR involvement is almost always a bad sign. The job of HR is to protect the company, not to protect you.

What is an attendance success plan? ›

Attendance Success Plans allow students to set their own attendance goals, create realistic strategies to meet their goals, and establish a personalized helping network. This is a fantastic exercise for advisory and homeroom teachers to perform with their students.

What makes a good time and attendance system? ›

Absence management

The best time and attendance systems allow organisations to monitor absenteeism closely in order to improve absence processes and reduce rates of absence. They do this by systematically comparing real hours worked and patterns of absence against expected 'normal' working patterns.

What is the role of HR in attendance management? ›

As an HR professional, tracking and storing attendance data will help you ensure compliance with all the applicable labor laws. Streamlining your attendance management strategies can also help ensure you always have enough resources to complete projects on time.

What are 3 benefits of good attendance? ›

Good attendance habits pay off! More school days attended increases a child's academic success, improves their chances to earn a high school diploma and a college degree, so they can earn higher pay in their careers. 80% of success is showing up! School keeps you safe, it educates you, it prepares you for your future.

How do you evaluate employee attendance? ›

Use these sample review phrases to summarize an employee's attendance and punctuality:
  1. “Always on time for work, including meetings and conferences”
  2. “Has a strong attendance record and is punctual with deliverables required”
  3. “Shows up on time for work and completes projects without breaching due dates”
Jul 21, 2021

How do you fix an employee who is always late? ›

Here are some ideas to help you manage an employee who consistently arrives late:
  1. Address the situation early. ...
  2. Make your expectations clear. ...
  3. Refer to a tardy policy. ...
  4. Allow for privacy. ...
  5. Set goals together. ...
  6. Check in regularly. ...
  7. Give praise for improved behavior. ...
  8. Document conversations and interactions.
Mar 10, 2023

How do you retain employees in difficult times? ›

Use the following tips to keep employees happy, employee turnover down and productivity up, despite “no raises this year”:
  1. 1) Look toward the future. ...
  2. 2) Have efficient systems in place for accomplishing tasks. ...
  3. 3) Hold regular staff meetings. ...
  4. 4) Be a good leader. ...
  5. 5) Promote a positive work environment.

How do you deal with an employee who forgets everything? ›

Sit down with your employees, calmly explain your concerns and allow them time to respond. It is possible that the employees' memory problems are caused by problems outside the workplace. Afterward, work with the forgetful employees on an action plan designed to help them combat their memory issues.

What is the 5 why corrective action form? ›

The method is remarkably simple: when a problem occurs, you drill down to its root cause by asking "Why?" five times. Then, when a counter-measure becomes apparent, you follow it through to prevent the issue from recurring.

What are the six action based steps? ›

6 steps to create an action plan
  • Step 1: Set a SMART goal. When it comes to setting goals, clarity is the single most important quality. ...
  • Step 2: Identify tasks. ...
  • Step 3: Allocate resources. ...
  • Step 4: Prioritize tasks. ...
  • Step 5: Set deadlines and milestones. ...
  • Step 6: Monitor and revise your action plan.
Jan 8, 2023

How do you terminate an employee for poor attendance? ›

If you've recognized excessive absenteeism or tardiness, let the employee know about their attendance issues. If there's no improvement, the next step is to follow up with a written warning. The written warning should clarify that you expect the improvement to be immediate and sustained.

How do you deal with an absent minded employee? ›

Sit down with your employees, calmly explain your concerns and allow them time to respond. It is possible that the employees' memory problems are caused by problems outside the workplace. Afterward, work with the forgetful employees on an action plan designed to help them combat their memory issues.

What are the phrases for poor attendance performance review? ›

Doesn't follow the company's attendance policy” “Consistently shows up late to meetings” “Poor attendance negatively affects others on their team” “Goes on vacation without notifying any staff members in advance”


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