Boosting Attendance at Work: Innovative Strategies for Employers

By Mariah Collins, SHRM-CP on Jan 31, 2024
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If you’re wondering how to boost attendance at work, you’re not alone. Companies across the country are searching for creative attendance incentives to address a very real and growing concern. 

According to the Guardian, workplace absences at American companies were at a record high as calculated at the end of the year in 2022. Their research revealed that “in 2022, workers had the most sickness-related absences of the pandemic, and the highest number since record-keeping began in 1976.” 

RELATED: Effective Ways to Handle Poor Attendance at Work >> 

The Importance of Attendance for Company Profitability 

Absenteeism and poor punctuality at work don’t just contribute to lackluster culture and low engagement, they can also directly affect a company's bottom line. 

Investopedia reports that unscheduled absenteeism costs the average American company around $2,660 annually per salaried employee and $3,600 per employee paid hourly. For a small business with 25 employees, that figure might average around $78,250 in a single year.

  • Absenteeism costs come from a variety of sources, including: 
  • Reduced overall productivity 
  • Wages paid to employees who are missing work 
  • Costs involved with the replacement (whether temporarily or permanently) of absent workers 
  • Reduced quality of goods or services due to overstaffing 
  • Low morale amongst employees covering for missing team members 
  • More frequent or more severe safety issues 
  • Excess time and money spent on discipline, administration, and employee management 

employee burnout causes and signs

Five Attendance Incentives That Work 

To address absenteeism, small businesses are exploring punctuality and attendance at work incentives to encourage their employees to show up to work (and to get in on time). In this article, we’ll cover five attendance incentives that really work for small businesses and discuss how you can implement them within your workplace. 

Preferential Parking Privileges 

Preferential parking privileges are a creative attendance incentive with several unique benefits. First, allocating prime parking spots to employees with excellent attendance records is a low-cost (if not free) way to incentivize employees to reach their attendance goals. 

The practice is a tangible, coveted benefit that might otherwise be rewarded based on another standard, such as seniority, or allotted at random. This incentive also doubles as a form of employee recognition. Assigning spots based on attendance and/or punctuality sends a clear message that an employee’s dedication and conscientiousness are both noticed and valued. 

Free Breakfasts or Lunches on Specified Days Encourage Punctuality at Work 

Free breakfasts and lunches are a powerful way to emphasize the importance of attendance and punctuality at work. You can use these “free food days” in several planned ways to boost attendance.

Consider the following: 

  • Offer free breakfast and/or lunch during days that historically have high “call-out” rates, or that you believe are likely to see an influx of employee time-off requests, such as Mondays, Fridays, weekends, or holidays.

  • Provide free breakfast to employees who show up before the workday begins as a way to promote and encourage punctuality at work. Pack up leftovers before the late arrivers make their way in. 

  • Use free meals as attendance incentives for those employees with exemplary attendance and punctuality records. Food is always a fan-favorite reward. 

RELATED: Creative Non-Monetary Ways to Motivate Your Employees >> 

Gift Cards, Bonuses or Extra Paid Time Off 

While food and parking are attractive and low-cost attendance incentives, you can’t be sure that all employees will appreciate them. Motivate even your pickiest employees to show up to work on time through gift cards, bonuses or vouchers for extra paid time off. 

The Society for Human Resources Management covered the success of a similar incentivization method, wherein employees received a monetary bonus for perfect attendance within a specific time period. Rewards increased during the holidays when workers wanted extra money and were more likely to call out of work. 

Whether you reward employees individually for great attendance, create a raffle for a more lucrative prize, or develop another way of issuing monetary or PTO-based bonuses, be careful to avoid encouraging the attendance of truly sick employees. 

The last thing you want to incite is the unnecessary spread of illnesses and germs—something that will only hurt your attendance records in the long run. One way to circumvent this is to avoid penalizing employees for planned or documented absences that are within their allotted sick days and to reward them only based on adherence to your existing PTO and sick time plans. 

Casual Dress or Remote Flexibility Days 

Like free breakfast and lunch, casual attire and/or remote flexibility can be used creatively as a way to improve attendance. If, for example, you find employee absenteeism spiking on Fridays, you might offer “casual dress Fridays” or remote flexibility as a way to keep your employees looking forward to the end of the work week without skipping out on work entirely. 

Not only are “casual Fridays” or other dress code rewards a low-cost attendance incentivization tool, but they can also help boost employee morale. And if your business is well-positioned to provide remote or hybrid work options, flexibility on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday can help your employees get through the week while providing them with a welcomed break on their commutes. 

Team Challenges and Group Incentives 

A mix of individual and group incentivization may be the key to motivating your team to achieve their attendance and punctuality goals. You can foster a sense of healthy competition while supporting comradery in the workplace by dividing your company into “teams” that will compete to see who can achieve the most exemplary attendance records. 

Not only will your employees enjoy working together to reach their goals, but they’ll also all be accountable to each other for hitting their marks. Reward winning teams at the end of a month or quarter with a group lunch, a sponsored outing, or a similar team-building incentive. 

how to know if remote employees are working

Axcet HR: Your Partner for Building and Sustaining a Great Company Culture

For your business to keep profit and morale high, you’ll need to build and sustain a fantastic company culture. Emphasizing the importance of punctuality and attendance at work is just one way to accomplish that goal. 

When it comes to crafting an employee relations strategy that delivers real ROI, the HR services experts at Axcet HR Solutions have the know-how to guide you toward success. With Axcet, you’ve found a partner for the journey toward achieving your business goals and creating a workplace that thrives. 

From HR compliance to workplace safety and recruitment to retention, Axcet is your certified professional employer organization (and your HR partner). Let us take care of the HR details, so you can focus on growing and scaling your core business. Interested in learning more about Axcet can help? Schedule a consultation with our experienced consultants today. 

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