Attendance in the workplace can be a tedious process that most supervisor/managers loathe because it forces us into an almost parental role that can be downright annoying. However you penalize call-offs or late clock-ins/outs, keeping track of attendance can be compared to balancing a checkbook. Even though it may be tedious it is a necessary evil to make sure all employees are being treated equally and not one individual is taking advantage of arriving early or in some cases clocking out late to rack up small amounts of overtime. All of these examples can affect your productivity numbers and also the workflow of the laboratory.
So the question becomes how do you avoid the attendance issue without having to balance the checkbook every other day? First, address each and every attendance issue swiftly and equally with each employee. This will get the attention of all the employees so they know that you take attendance seriously and expect punctuality. If you want to be lenient and let the first one or two instances slide make sure you record this and treat each employee equally. The first hint of favoritism may cause your employees to lose respect which may lead to a much bigger problem other than attendance. Second, if you have monthly employee meetings (which I recommend), be sure to remind everyone your attendance policy and have each employee sign the meeting minutes so you have documentation that each employee understands the policy. Lastly, the best time to properly introduce an employee to the attendance policy is when they’re going through the hiring process. For some of our young hires, this may be their first job after college and clocking in for a full-time position may be a large change from walking in the door half-asleep for an 8am class.
The last attendance issue that should be discussed is call-offs (unexcused absences) that seem to follow a pattern. Employees may feel they shouldn’t work a Friday before they work the weekend. The generally accepted definition of a pattern is three or more examples of the call-off. So if the previous employee example called-off three Fridays before they had to work that following weekend we would contact HR and see if we could address the situation. Some may feel this is obvious but when employees work every third weekend this pattern may take a couple months to present itself. These are especially difficult as a supervisor/manager because you most likely do not have any direct evidence that the employee is calling-off without actually being under the weather. This becomes especially difficult when an employee has an approved medial leave issue and appears to be using it to their advantage.
In each of the examples above the most important item for you as a supervisor/manager is documentation. You must have a detailed record so when the time comes to use corrective action or even address it with HR you have everything you need to address it with the employee. You don’t want to be walking into your laboratory, see an empty bench, and say, “Bueller?”
–Matthew Herasuta, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM is a medical laboratory scientist who works as a generalist and serves as the Blood Bank and General Supervisor for the regional Euclid Hospital in Cleveland, OH.