Home > Resources > How to deal with poor attendance
How to deal with poor attendance

As a manager, there may come a point in your career when you need to deal with time and attendance issues in the workplace. There can be many, many reasons behind a person's poor attendance, so it's important not to jump to conclusions. Instead, you should work through the issue in a calm, measured way - keeping detailed records of what happens at each stage.

Raise the issue with the employee

Start by flagging the issue with the individual in question, arming you with the relevant stats and correspondence. This will include the details of each day they were sick - such as the actual date and the reason they gave. Make this a casual chat about the situation, ensuring you aren't too aggressive in your approach and really listen to what they have to say.

Be human

If the person has a really valid reason, such as a chronic illness or perhaps something like family problems, be sensitive. Show sympathy and reassure them that you're willing to work with them to find a solution. This could be helping them out with private healthcare or offering childcare, counselling or anything else you think could be of benefit. If you really value the employee, it's worth it - and you can bet they will appreciate it a lot.

But be firm!

However if they seem not that bothered about the attendance issue and don't really have valid/believable reasons for their persistent absence, then you might need to take a slightly firmer approach. Ask them what they think the root cause of their attendance issues and do keep a record of their answer. Then, advise them that you will be keeping an eye on their attendance patterns for the next however many months. Confirm that if the situation hasn't improved after this time, you may need to take disciplinary action.

Follow up

You should then re-assess the situation after the designated time period; taking the decision either to move on from the issue, or taking it to the next level. Of course, any disciplinary action needs to be backed up evidence and the appropriate paperwork, so ensure this is all in place before pushing ahead.

If their attendance improves it is always good to make sure that there is a way of notifying them that it has been noticed. Sometimes workers may feel like they are one amongst many, so that little gesture of saying mentioning that you have seen an improvement will go a long way to creating a happy punctual employee.