Positive Reinforcement for an Employee Attendance Policy


Workplace policies are designed to maintain a company's efficient operation. These policies, procedures and rules are outlined in the employee handbook, discussed during all-staff meetings and addressed during one-on-one performance evaluations. Dependability and reliability are important aspects of employment; in regard to the daily performance of job duties, these terms refer to attendance.

No-Fault Attendance Policy

  • Employers that adopt no-fault attendance policies consider all absences unexcused or "no fault," meaning the reason for the absence is of no consequence. There are two ways to manage a no-fault attendance policy. One way is give each employee a bank of points and deduct a certain number of points for each absence. When the bank is depleted, terminate the employee for poor attendance. The other method is the reverse: Employees start with zero points and accumulate points for each absence. When an employee reaches the maximum number of points allowed, you may terminate him. In both forms of a no-fault policy, employees can either earn points or have points deducted for maintaining perfect attendance for a certain length of time, usually a calendar year quarter.

Paid Time Off

  • In many companies, vacation and sick leave are combined and simply referred to as paid time off, or PTO. Employees who call in sick usually take paid time off; however, if an employee has demonstrated a pattern of calling in sick on Mondays, Fridays or before or after a paid holiday, the manager has discretion to approve or deny the PTO.

    Calling the same morning of the day an employee wants to take PTO can create havoc in the workplace. It also reflects negatively on an employee's performance evaluation. Many companies implement policies that state an employee must be present both before and after a paid holiday in order to be compensated for the time off. Similarly, employees who take so much time off that they deplete their accrued leave must take time off without pay.

Disciplinary Action

  • Progressive disciplinary action for poor attendance is one method employers use to control absenteeism and tardiness. However, employees who understand the system and maintain their own record of attendance are capable of timing their requests for time off so their accrual of paid leave makes it impossible them to be eligible for termination based on poor attendance. Nevertheless, performance appraisals reflect this pattern, and upon the end of each evaluation period, managers can give the employee low ratings for attendance.

Positive Reinforcement

  • Companies that are backing away from progressive disciplinary policies in favor of less punitive corrective action develop ways to reframe attendance policies so the issue of poor attendance becomes more of a reflection of teamwork, interpersonal relationships and dependability. Employees on teams or in work groups are responsible for holding up their end of the bargain where their job duties are concerned. One person's absence can cause production failure, additional work for other team members and friction between employees.

    Constructing a plan that focuses on positive reinforcement is a slow and gradual process that gives employees time to grasp the philosophy associated with teamwork and maintaining a sense of reliability and responsibility when it comes to group projects in which everyone is expected to participate.

Employee Recognition

  • Employee recognition for perfect attendance is one of the most common forms of positive reinforcement concerning absenteeism. Employers believe that rewarding employees with gift cards, plaques and certificates strengthen employee attendance. However, some human resources experts say employees shouldn't receive rewards for simply meeting the job expectation of showing up for work every day. That's the minimum requirement for all job expectations.

Personal Development

  • Personal development and the impact on performance is another positive reinforcement method for attendance. Employees who work independently are solely responsible for their duties. Regardless of their level of expertise, skill or capabilities, if they are absent from work, their performance suffers because the company cannot rely on them to be available. Excessive absenteeism ultimately affects dependability, an important performance standard. Positive reinforcement can reverse the tendency some employees have to take off too much time, but it's also a slow and gradual conversion to a philosophy based primarily on how an employee's skills and capabilities are perceived in relationship to attendance and dependability.


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