“You’re of absolutely no help to me whatsoever…

…when you’re not here!”

Always believed that the importance & value of good attendance was grossly underrated & underappreciated.

The businesses I managed always seemed to do very well in this area.

One important reason is that we always paid close attention to it.

I required my managers to ALWAYS have a conversation when a person returned from an unscheduled absence.

The conversation could take several different paths…

“Ann, this is your first absence in over a year. I hope you’re feeling better & I’d like to thank you for your exemplary performance!”

“This has been your Xth occurrence within the past Y months. Hate to say it, but you’re approaching the unacceptable level for unscheduled absences. Let’s see if there’s something we need to discuss to help improve your performance in this area.”

“This is unacceptable, Manuel. As per the company’s guidelines, I must issue you an informal warning that will be entered into your personnel record. This is exactly what we discussed 2 weeks ago when you called in sick. You’ll need to maintain a perfect attendance record for the next X months or I’ll be forced to take the next disciplinary action. Let’s discuss this matter.”

Don’t ever let a problem get to the point where you’re putting an employee on formal documentation, final warning or…

…worse & you’ve never reviewed the situation before with your employee!

Also, take a look at when most absences are occurring.

In traditional shops where the majority of shifts are M-F, you’ll find that absences are clearly highest on Mondays.

No big surprise here, right?

Must be that damned weekend flu that seems to be rampant. Everywhere. Every year. For almost everyone.

And, of course, Mondays are, often times, the busiest time of the week.

Monday’s are followed by Fridays (not in the week, silly…with absenteeism rates). Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday usually run about the same.

If you’re seeing patterns, with individuals &/or the group as a whole, let it be known.

Address the issue.

Years ago, when my reps would call in sick, we would tell them that we would call them back in a couple of hours to see if their tummy was feeling well enough to now come in.

Then, we’d adjust the person’s schedule for that day & it would not count as an occurrence.

Everyone knew exactly why we did it…and it worked very well as no one really abused the favor.

Today, with cell phones & possible HR implications, I’m not so sure it would work as effectively or even be allowed (even informally).

But we enjoyed absenteeism rates below 3% for over 4 years!

And leading by example is essential in getting your people to comply.

None of this “Do as I say, not as I do” nonsense!

I remember that I had 2 absences in my first 3 months upon being hired at Citi.

My boss, Raji Kulkarni, read me the riot act. “At this rate, you’ll exceed the allowable number of absences for the year!”

Message received. Very loud & very clear.

In my almost 30 years there, I probably had perfect attendance in at least 23-24 years. I had a 15-year streak at one point.

(And that didn’t even count the normal 1-2 weeks of forfeited vacation time that I never used every year. Do NOT allow your people to do this! It’s foolish & not in their best interest!

And, no, I wasn’t embezzling funds! That’s one reason why companies often require employees or managers to take consecutive weeks away from the office.)

Worked with this guy, Joe Muller, who headed up the Brooklyn/Long Island/Staten Island Investigations Unit, and he was one tough dude who demanded, and got, the very best outta his people & those of us who sent him work.

At one point, he had perfect attendance for his entire career.. 31 years!!! And he was still going strong last thing I heard years back!

As far as underrated & underappreciated goes, companies need to do more than just handing our perfect attendance awards.

Are there monetary considerations given as well?

I know that many companies use a balanced measurement of “tenure & performance” to determine shift selection order & the various rounds of vacation times election.

Perhaps attendance should be included as well (if not already calculated in the performance metric).

How about awarding a “free day off” for those employees with a perfect annual attendance record?

A special raffle for employees where everyone gets, say, 3 tickets,…but forfeits one for every unscheduled absence in the past rolling 12 months? Only those employees with <3 absences would even have a chance to win!

You can’t expect perfection from every person, but it’s not unreasonable to expect improvement from all employees & no deterioration from those with perfect attendance.

I rather have the employee who drops from -0- absences to 2 rather than the person who improves from 5 to 3, though I’d be more pleased with the 2nd person’s trajectory.

(Ya know, sometimes the employees who are consistently exceptional all the time are overlooked in favor of “recent superstars”.

No one said this people management & leadership thing was gonna be easy!)

Think about how YOU feel about stuff – – getting recognized for your performance, receiving regular performance feedback, getting to talk with your boss, feeling appreciated, etc. – – and then put yourself in your people’s shoes.

You’ll be surprised at how it’ll help open your eyes as to what they face every day.

Don’t be afraid to walk a day…or even a couple of hours…in their shoes from time to time.

The corollary isn’t recommended. They’ll tamper with rating & raises!

Ok, that should be it for now.

As always, thank you so much for listening…and for coming to the blog today.

Your attendance is clearly noticed & greatly appreciated!

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