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Your HR Guy hates Attendance Issues

A person asked me over email about attendance issues and all sorts of mean, nasty things came to my mind when it was mentioned.

Oh how I loathe ye great attendance policy. My post on ROWE is the only time I’ve mentioned my despise for workplace attendance policies. There are a lot of different folds of attendance policies that I would like to address:

  • They are archaic. I would say that any attendance policy that isn’t flexible enough to keep your best people at work is archaic. I would think that besides ROWE workplaces or those who are super flexible, your attendance policy is crap. If your attendance policy punishes supervisors for being flexible with work times, it is crap. I heard of one workplace where a person worked 4–10’s as pre-arranged with the supervisor and counted the fifth day as an excused absence in their attendance policy (which had a limit). That’s insanity
  • Attendance policies were meant to be abused. You have hard limits on the number of absences and tardies that employees get and those crappy employees get right there on the edge of that limit all of the time. The abusers know the limits of the attendance policy.
  • Attendance discharges are so easy. HR loves the attendance discharge. As long as they’ve executed each attendance discharge by the book, it is a great, nearly risk free discharge. Of course, these don’t always happen to bad employees. And “Sorry my hands are tied” is a really awful response to a manager who didn’t understand why a pre-arranged absence is now leading to termination.
  • Which doesn’t mean we don’t need a policy. No, no, no. Unless you are ROWE, you definitely need guidelines in place. My ideal would be an attendance system that is much like a performance policy. Less hard limits, more understanding how attendance really makes their work suffer. Abusers are still gone under the system.
  • I am the executor of bad policy. Every HR person inherits bad policy and they should petition to change bad policy as soon as possible. That being said bad policy isn’t a reason not to enforce bad policy (now illegal policies, that’s another issue altogether). You do yourself and the business you work for disfavor if you don’t fairly apply the rules of the workplace.

So there is my crusade against attendance policies. And yes, this doesn’t work for every situation I realize. But even different situations can use better attendance policies.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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