Time And Attendance | 10 mins read

Managing Employee Time and Attendance

managing employee time and attendance
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

When it comes to time and attendance, absenteeism is a major liability, negatively impacting production and team morale. Learn how to get your team under control.

Absenteeism is a significant and detrimental problem that prevents companies from fully thriving. With employee absenteeism comes a high price with the sometimes hidden loss of productivity and lowered employee morale. It's estimated that almost 3 percent of an employer's workforce is absent on any given day according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and still, many employers fail to implement effective attendance tracking.

With the proper time tracking solution, whether that be with the help of attendance software or a thoroughly mapped out attendance system, businesses will be more capable to control labor cost and improve workforce management.

Here is a look into employee time tracking and how to strengthen current timekeeping practices.

How to Deal with Employee Absenteeism

Employee Absenteeism is a re-occurring lack of attendance at the workplace without a valid reason. This does not account for illnesses or unexpected emergencies.

In order to prevent absences from occurring, the why factor must first be determined. Once understood, it's important to make changes to the current management system, as there are several applicable approaches to resolve the problem.

1. Create an attendance system and policy

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The first step in fixing any attendance issues is to put a policy in place. Attendance seems like a straightforward concept, but in reality, daily scenarios can skew it. What if your employee is an hour late? What if they had to pick up their child from daycare unexpectedly? Attendance policies should stay simple and straightforward. Include realistic disciplinary actions tailored by scenario. With a clearly written policy, this rules out the factor of bias or case-by-case scenario, defining each type of absence and penalty clearly.

2. Record employee absences

One easy way to track your employee's time spent at work is to utilize an employee time clock. Time tracking software can provide employers with instant notifications about employee's clock in and out times and therefore every time an absence arises management can quickly make note of it. Why record all the absences? Most states have at-will employment, meaning employees can be terminated without employers having to establish a just cause.

3. Identify the cause

There may be underlying reasons as to why an employee is frequently absent. If there's a noticeable pattern in an employee's attendance, address it in a professional manner. Management should try approaching employees asking if there's anything he/she can do to lessen the reoccurring absences.

Employers may find out there are other factors outside of work impacting attendance, like finding suitable childcare during work hours or trying to balance time management between work and school. Point being is- it may not be the employee at all but rather their schedule instead that is conflicting with their work performance. After determining an employee is experiencing schedule issues, management should re-discuss availability and be sure to work around his/her schedule conflicts in order to avoid an absence. When looking at scheduling issues it's imperative that employers hire enough employees in order to account for employee schedule conflicts.

4. Support employee engagement

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In a workplace, absence is typically felt more than presence. When someone is absent it puts a strain on the team and how a whole operation is running. Nearly half, or 49 percent of employees are disengaged, while 18 percent are actively disengaged. Recognizing employees for good attendance and work ethic could be the most impactful strategy when it comes to battling employee absenteeism. Giving shout-outs to hard workers, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition, and collecting employee feedback are all useful tactics for management to increase employee engagement.

Collecting Data on Absenteeism

One of the key ways to control absenteeism is to correctly assess the nature of the problem and to record the findings properly. With proper findings come proper solutions.

There are a couple of Human Resource materials that HR professionals may use to monitor attendance-

  • Weekly time and attendance reports
  • Attendance policies handbook
While using these tools, HR professionals should keep in mind and determine-
  • The types of absenteeism problems that currently exist
  • Why the problems exist
  • Constructive solutions
One of the most common ways to research this issue is to conduct a historical study to discover the extent of the problem and to see whether it's improving or worsening. With the data that's collected, further analysis can then help pinpoint specific problems such as geographic locations, departments, or divisions experiencing higher-than-usual absences. In order to gauge effectiveness, continued monitoring is crucial to make any adjustments moving forward.

Costs of Absenteeism

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Organizations should be aware of direct costs such as payroll, along with the impact of indirect costs, such as factors associated with productivity loss.

Direct Costs
The obvious cost of absenteeism is actual dollars. When talking about absenteeism it's important to note that this includes scheduled and unscheduled absences. Even when an employee has a legitimate reason for taking time off, such as vacation or sick days, this still alters productivity in the workplace.

Unscheduled absenteeism can cost upwards of $3,600 per hourly employee and $2,650 per salaried employee annually.

Indirect Costs
These are the hidden expenses, which can include high turnover, inability to meet customer demand, or excess management time.

A high turnover rate may indicate employees' low morale levels. Companies with a high employee morale rate tend to have fewer absences in an overall work year. Unplanned absences result in an overall loss in productivity.

Measuring the Costs of Absenteeism
There are several methods for determining the cost of absenteeism in the workplace. Most common methods to calculate are-

  • Loss in multiples of salary - The cost of each person who's absent becomes a multiplier somewhere between one and two applied to the cost of the salary. The greater the impact an employee has on the team, the greater the multiplier.
  • Loss in full-time equivalent positions - This expresses cumulative lost time when looking at full-time equivalent positions.
  • Loss in productivity and quality - Employers can measure and evaluate the cost-effectiveness in disability management and absence management programs and use their results against other firms.

Solutions and Strategies

It's the ability to track attendance efficiently to view the complete effect absenteeism has on a business.
Having software to store the actual time an employee has worked is essential. Utilizing an employee time clock will assist in recording clock in times greatly. With the use of a time clock data collection and calculations are automated, meaning everything entered is correct free from human error. Time clocks also alert employers about attendance issues, such as repeated tardiness or systematic absences. This way employers can quickly find a solution for frequent absenteeism.

Strategies for Managing Time and Attendance
Common practices to absence management include-

  • Disciplinary action for excessive absence
  • Verifying illness after a certain period of time
  • Focusing on personal praise for employees with a positive attendance record and exhibits a positive work ethic
  • Encouraging vacation time for your employees to fulfill a work and life balance
Before starting these practices, it's important to ensure employee policies are clear and coherent to all employees and that they promote positive and appropriate employee behaviors.

Focus on Incentives to Promote a Healthier Work Place
In order to lower absences in the workplace, there must be incentives put in place for employees. Some examples may be-

Perfect Attendance Bonus
This is an easy incentive program that fosters good behavior and fosters engagement with employees. For example for one month of perfect attendance employers may offer an additional $200 bonus. As the year goes on, the bonus gets higher, ultimately leading to a full 12 months of perfect attendance and a hefty lump sum of bonuses.

Recognition for Every Year Worked
The cost of this program is low, but it can make your team members feel visible and appreciated. Offer a reward for each year an employee has worked for the company.

This promotes a pat on the back for employees and encourages new employees to set goals for their new careers.

A Flexible Schedule, if Applicable
When employers offer flexibility this allows employees a bit of freedom to balance work and home life. To allow wiggle room from the 9 to 5 schedule, some ideas include working four 10-hour days, or 9-hour shifts Monday through Thursday and a 4-hour shift on Friday.

Offering Health and Wellness Benefits
Putting employee health first could correlate with their overall work performance and motivation to show up. It could be something as simple a discounted rate for gym memberships, but the result could have a great effect on the happiness and productivity of your employees.

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Most management allows for flexibility when it comes to employee attendance, hours of work expected, and the consequences they see fit for excessive absences.

However, there are several federal and state laws that have made flexibility seemingly difficult to achieve. Laws to consider when regulating time and attendance are-

Wage and Hourly
Employers must be cautious when looking at their policies. They must make sure that their policies align with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws. If not employers could be liable if improper absence-related deductions are taken from an employee's pay. For example, when looking at overtime, exempt employees, due to their rate of pay, are not eligible for overtime pay for hours worked over 40. Versus Nonexempt employees must be paid time and a half for any hours worked more than 40.

Paid-Sick-Leave
Numerous states' paid-sick-leave laws place an obligation on the employer to accommodate for sickness and also include restrictions on discipline. These laws are always changing; therefore, employers must stay up to date with new state legislation.

Family and Medical Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States labor law requiring covered employers to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. This allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for a new child or care for a seriously ill family member.

Military Leave
In 1994 the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and FMLA teamed together to give certain employees a specified amount of unpaid leave. USERRA requires repliers to grant up to 5 years of unpaid leave to employees for active military duty. And on the contrary, FMLA allows employees up to 12 weeks of leave, and up to 26 weeks of military caregiver leave. Under USERRA there are four types of legally protected-

  1. Military leave for the affected employee
  2. Military family leave for the employee who has a military affected family member
  3. Medical leave for the affected employee
  4. Family medical leave for the employee who has a military affected family member
Workers Compensation
Workers' compensation laws are found in all 50 states. Workers' Comp is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job or during the course of employment. These laws are intended to eliminate the need for litigation and offer a trade of compensation and medical benefits for not being required to prove legal fault on the part of the employer.

Disability Discrimination
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and all private and public places that are open to the general public. Regular job attendance is an essential job function, but an employer could violate ADA if attendance was not considered as a possible accommodation to some employees.

Unemployment Compensation
Unemployment insurance provides workers who have been terminated without fault, monetary payments for a certain period of time until employed again. If an employee is terminated due to excessive unexcused absences this can amount to misconduct and therefore an employee is ineligible for unemployment compensation. In order for employers to prove an employee was discharged for misconduct, substantial and concrete evidence must show absences were both excessive and unauthorized.

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