Way back in the mid-1970s, I attended a seminar on
eliminating employee lateness and absenteeism. Since that
time, I have been utilizing this simple and effective
technique to cure lateness and absenteeism issues with
dozens of companies.
The seminar identified 3 types of employees:
1. Absent-Averse – 95%+ of the workforce.
2. Borderline Absent-Prone – +/- 3% of the workforce.
3. Absent-Prone Employees – +/- 2% of the workforce.
HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: The biggest issue with lateness and
absenteeism is that an employee can be late or take a day
off and slip back into work without anyone confronting the
employee about his/her actions.
Establish a company policy that a supervisor must meet
with every employee who was late or absent and record on a
simple form (A) the date of the incident and (B) the
reason for the lateness or absence. This cannot be a
“sometime” policy. It must be done EVERY time a person
returns to work following a lateness or absence.
In addition to recording the lateness or absence, the
supervisor should have a short script that describes the
alternate arrangements that needed to be made or the
problems that were caused by the lateness or absence.
This little awareness script will work wonders on any
employee who may be leaning toward being absent-prone.
A. Provides a consistent message to absent-prone people,
B. Is a wake-up call to the borderline absent-prone
C. Is welcomed by the absent-averse employees who are
happy to see management finally doing something about the
In the 1970’s, businesses didn’t have to worry about the
Americans with Disability Act (ADA), Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the Family & Medical
Leave Act (FMLA). In today’s environment, a lateness or
absence is more that a production problem as it may be
part of an ADA and/or a FMLA issue that can require a
company to make an accommodation.
This process of proactively addressing EVERY lateness and
absence and engaging an employee in a conversation about
the incident will allow a manager to stay on top of any
potential ADA or FMLA issues.
CAUTION: After asking for the reason for the lateness or
absence, DO NOT drill-down into the issue by asking, “What
specifically is wrong?” Questions such as this can