Question submitted by Luis R., business owner, Tempe, AZ
Whether you employ 1 person or 1,000 people, you’re going to run into attendance problems at some point. The best thing that you can do when this behavior problem rears its ugly head is:
1) Be straightforward about it. Pull your employee aside and respectfully say to them:
“The team (or I) count on you to be on time for every scheduled shift. When you are not at work on time we cannot service clients, etc.” Describe the real impact that their tardiness or excessive absence has on the business. If you potentially lose customers when your employee is not on time, ready to work, explain that! Determine and state expectations clearly: what their schedule is and when you expect them to be at work.
2) Follow up in writing. Your employee discipline program may be loosely organized or might be more regimented. Either way, follow up in writing – a quick email or typed note to say: “I appreciate your openness during our conversation about your attendance today. Please let me know if you have any questions about our attendance and punctuality policy; or we can assist you in any way so that you can make it to work on time, every time.” If you made any verbal agreements, for example, modified an employees schedule so that they could come in later or leave earlier on a regular basis, outline that in the written summary of the conversation. Always end on a positive note, offering to help them as much as possible.
3) Follow through with progressive discipline. If the employee understands what is expected of them but continues to fail to meet your expectations, formalize the counseling process with a “written warning” or something of that nature. Outline what happens next, if they indeed continue with the poor behavior/performance. Put them on notice when it is their final warning; and only do this when you will absolutely follow through the “next time” – for example: “if you are absent or tardy again in the next two weeks, you will be terminated immediately.” However, only make that statement if you know you have the willpower to follow through.
4) If they aren’t a keeper, don’t keep them. You know when you think and employee is a “good fit”, and if they aren’t working out, you know that too! Only keep employees who want to be on the team, and who can meet your minimum expectations. If employees are allowed to continue but exhibit behavior or performance problems, they can disrupt the good work and commitment of other employees.
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