Swap Absenteeism for Productivity with a Bulletproof Attendance Policy

Swap Absenteeism for Productivity with a Bulletproof Attendance Policy

Here's how to devise the perfect components The components and considerations behind a comprehensive attendance policy

Attendance Policy

In 1989, Woody Allen famously said, “80% of success is showing up.” 

While Allen's words were likely uttered in jest, the sentiment underscores a fundamental truth: attendance matters. Being present and accounted for is a cornerstone of progress and success. 

If and when an employee fails to meet the bell, there must be a consequence. In this blog article, we’ll define attendance and explore its impact on productivity, dissect the components of an effective attendance policy, consider the consequences absenteeism may have on a company’s culture, and more. 

What Is an Attendance Policy

Attendance, simply put, is the act of being present. In the workplace, absenteeism, or lack of attendance, poses a significant challenge for employers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national absence rate stands at 3.1%, reflecting a considerable impact on productivity and profitability. A study by Circadian suggests that absenteeism costs U.S. businesses a staggering $575 billion annually. 

To address this issue, companies implement attendance policies. These policies establish clear expectations regarding punctuality, absenteeism, and tardiness. By outlining procedures for time-off requests, reporting absences, and addressing noncompliance, such policies promote fairness, consistency, and productivity in the workplace.

An effective attendance policy is instrumental in reducing absenteeism, enhancing productivity, and fostering a culture of accountability within the organization. These policies serve numerous purposes:

  • Productivity: Consistent attendance ensures work schedules are adhered to, minimizing disruptions and maintaining workflow efficiency. 
  • Accountability: Holding employees accountable for their attendance and punctuality fosters a sense of responsibility and professionalism. 
  • Legal Compliance: Attendance policies ensure all parties remain compliant with local and federal labor laws, including working hours, overtime, and leave entitlements. 
  • Equal Treatment: A well-written guide ensures attendance policies are applied across all employees, avoiding any accusations of discrimination. Consistent attendance and punishment fosters a positive work environment where workers who fulfill their responsibilities feel valued and supported. 
  • Bottom Line: Reducing absenteeism and tardiness can minimize any financial loss that accompanies lost productivity, temporary replacements, and an increase in overtime that emerges when shifts need to be covered.

Tip: Use a time clock system to enforce attendance policies. These programs accurately track hours, ensuring everyone follows the rules and stays punctual, boosting productivity and accountability.

The Components of an Effective Attendance Policy

Now that we’ve highlighted the importance of an attendance policy, let’s examine the elements that constitute an effective document of this magnitude. 

Define the Policy’s Purpose 

First and foremost, a company must clearly define the attendance policy’s purpose, outlining its objectives and expectations. This is a statement that defines the policy’s existence and outlines expectations. 

For example, Chicago Public Schools uses the following verbiage to introduce the purpose of its attendance policy: 

“The Comprehensive Policy on Attendance addresses the need to align all CPS schools, including CPS-contracted Charter, Contract and Options schools with ISBE school codes, and reflect the District's approach that aligns with best practices around relational trust, school connectedness, and tiered social emotional learning strategies that are recognized nationally as best practice around attendance and absenteeism.”

Establish Expectations

Clearly state the expected attendance standards for all employees covered by the policy, including punctuality, regular attendance, and adherence to scheduled work hours. Define what constitutes tardiness, absenteeism, and unauthorized leave, and specify any consequences for noncompliance.

This may include defining and setting parameters for expected/excused absences, unexpected/unexcused absences, tardies, etc. Make sure each of these terms is clearly defined so there’s never a concern over the intention. 

Again, using Chicago Public Schools as an example, here is its policy on unexcused absences for students: 

“Schools must send a letter notifying a student’s family of five unexcused absences, and, subsequently, 10 unexcused absences. Ten-day letters of unexcused absence notification are to be sent certified, return receipt requested. Daily outgoing calls are made for all unreported absent students to notify families of absence, for the purpose of the child’s safety. This is separate from the mandated robocall required by the School Code.

"All outgoing and incoming calls are to be logged and stored according to the District’s Records Retention Schedule and any guidelines and procedures developed by the Chief Executive Officer or designee and the Records Management Unit as required in the Board’s Records Management and Retention Policy, Section 203.2.”

Reporting Procedures

If and when an employee fails to meet the attendance standard, define how that attendance-related issue shall be reported. This should include who should be notified, the preferred method of communication, how far in advance employees must submit expected time off requests, etc. If using scheduling software, create a guideline that establishes how such requests should be made and the timeline in which they should be made.

Common examples include using a digital time tracking system to communicate absences, i.e., sending text messages, phone calls, emails, etc. Ensure your preferred communication method (and timeline) is clearly stated in your policy. 

Recording and Documentation

The policy should clearly state how employees’ time will be tracked and recorded, whether that’s done manually, through a timekeeping system, or by other means. 

If and when an employee fails to meet the policy’s time tracking standards, specific consequences must be written out and executed.  

When requesting time off for an excused absence, determine the method for this request to occur. Whether it’s speaking directly with a manager, sending an email, etc., make sure this is clearly defined in your policy. 

Digital time tracking software is a great way to manage employee communication as well as paid time off (PTO) requests. OnTheClock’s PTO management feature allows employees to easily access their PTO account, efficiently submit requests, and manage PTO balances. This streamlines PTO scheduling for both employees and managers, leading to better transparency and communication regarding time-off policies and usage.

While time tracking software is generally the easiest and most comprehensive tool for documentation, some companies may prefer to use a calendar system, a spreadsheet or paper chart, whiteboards, etc. Whatever method you use, ensure you have clear, dated records documenting each and every employee request or incident. 

Consequences, Confidentiality, and Consistency 

The policy should clearly state the consequences for each type of attendance infraction, from isolated events to those that are recurring, spelling out punishments for each. If the consequence for a tardy is different from an unexcused absence, make sure the policy clearly defines the parameters for each. 

Additionally, spell out the discipline process, noting when actions require a verbal warning, written warning, suspension, or termination.

Regarding employee records, ensure your policy recognizes the importance of keeping classified data confidential, stating that information will be protected and not shared publicly or unethically. 

Once the policy is completed, stress that it applies to all employees and then follow through on consequences accordingly. 

Company Culture

An attendance policy exists to ensure workers understand the expectations for attendance and punctuality. A well-written guide can positively influence various elements of a workplace, including its productivity, efficiency, and culture. 


Consistent punctuality among employees ensures projects progress on time and experience minimal delays. Conversely, absenteeism and tardiness disrupt workflow, decreasing a team’s productivity. An effectively implemented attendance policy mitigates these disruptions, fostering a consistent level of productivity. Moreover, a punctual workforce enables managers to accurately plan and allocate labor resources for each shift, optimizing operational efficiency.


A well-defined absence-reporting and PTO-request policy can streamline administrative tasks, saving time and effort for both employees and managers. Managers can leverage the policy's reporting system to monitor attendance data, pinpointing patterns of absenteeism and tardiness. Armed with this information, employers can assess staffing needs, refine schedules, and enhance efficiency, ultimately optimizing shifts for maximum productivity.


A sophisticated attendance policy is pivotal in shaping a company's culture. By holding employees accountable for attendance, it underscores the policy's significance, prompting colleagues to adhere to it to avoid repercussions. This fosters a culture of responsibility and reliability, where employees grasp their pivotal roles in the company's success. Ensuring transparency and consistency in the application of the attendance policy reinforces fairness. Employees feel supported when they perceive that attendance policies are applied equitably to all.

A positive attendance culture enhances teamwork, collaboration, employee engagement, and productivity. Motivated employees are more inclined to foster a collaborative atmosphere within the organization.

While emergencies are inevitable, a policy that accommodates legitimate absences, such as sick leave or family emergencies, underscores the organization's commitment to employee well-being. This contributes to cultivating a positive workplace culture where employees feel valued and supported.

Employee Feedback 

Your employees are the eyes and ears of the company. They’ll be the best use case to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of your attendance policy. When crafting the policy, it may be helpful to gather feedback from employees to better understand their needs, wants, and concerns. Incorporating employee feedback is a great way to show employees you’re listening to their concerns. 

Once the policy is complete and ready to be shared, encourage employees to provide feedback. This can be done anonymously or through a survey. These concerns provide valuable insights into the challenges that exist in your workplace. Strongly evaluate this feedback and tailor your policy accordingly, letting employees know you’ve received their feedback and are adopting the policy in response. Employees who feel heard are more likely to be engaged and committed to complying with this policy and other company rules and regulations. 

Attendance Policy Template 

Implementing a well-crafted employee attendance policy not only addresses absenteeism and tardiness issues but also does so with empathy and respect for your workforce. Such a policy is instrumental in fostering a positive workplace culture and boosting morale, ultimately leading to enhanced employee satisfaction and reduced turnover costs.

While you may be interested in adopting an attendance policy, you may be unsure where to begin. While many attendance policy examples exist online, we’ve made it easy for you. Click the link below to access an attendance policy template. Feel free to download this document and tailor it to best fit your needs.

Be More Efficient with Time Tracking Software  

As a company aims to implement an attendance policy, administrators should strongly consider incorporating digital time tracking software into their operation. A tool like OnTheClock can significantly assist a company in managing attendance through various features and functionalities, including:

Accurate Time Tracking: OnTheClock offers precise time tracking capabilities, allowing employees to clock in and out with ease. This ensures accurate recording of work hours, reducing instances of time theft or inaccuracies in attendance records.

Real-Time Monitoring: Managers can monitor attendance in real time through OnTheClock’s dashboards, gaining insight into who is currently clocked in and/or who arrived late or left early. This real-time data can be used to address attendance issues promptly.

Automated Notifications: OnTheClock can send automated notifications to managers or supervisors when employees clock in late, miss shifts, or exceed predefined absence thresholds. This allows for timely intervention and corrective action to maintain attendance standards.

Customizable Attendance Policies: OnTheClock enables companies to create and enforce customized attendance policies tailored to their specific needs. Managers can set rules regarding punctuality, unauthorized absences, and other attendance parameters, ensuring consistency and fairness in enforcement.

PTO Management: OnTheClock includes features for managing PTO, allowing employees to request time off directly through the system. Managers can review and approve these requests, ensuring accurate tracking of PTO usage and compliance with company policies.

Reporting and Analytics: OnTheClock provides comprehensive reporting and analytics tools that allow companies to analyze attendance data over time. Managers can identify attendance trends, track patterns of absenteeism, and make data-driven decisions to improve attendance management strategies.

Integration with Payroll: OnTheClock seamlessly integrates with payroll systems, facilitating the accurate calculation of employee wages based on attendance records. This streamlines payroll processing and ensures employees are compensated correctly for their time.

By leveraging these features, OnTheClock helps companies effectively monitor, manage, and optimize attendance practices, leading to improved workforce productivity, compliance, and overall operational efficiency. Try OnTheClock free for 30 days today. 

OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

Written by

OnTheClock Team

OnTheClock is the perfect app for business that want to keep track of their employees' time without spending hours doing it. With OnTheClock, you can forget about the old way of doing things.

Do you want to know more about how OnTheClock works?

Leave Your Thoughts...

(required, will be shown)
(required, will not be shown)