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We Are Beset by Shoddy Attendance. Should We Fire Everyone and Recruit New Workers?

December 6, 2012

Dear Fed Up:

Different companies in different industries can have challenges with people showing up on time or perhaps not at all. These challenges do not arise overnight and normally take time to develop. Typically, the situation depends on the job classification, employee attitude, magnitude of the problem and the work environment (i.e., culture, leadership). To solve your challenge and transition beyond the symptoms will require analyzing root causes, with the following themes:

Change orientation: Change occurs frequently within organizations. What changes have occurred over the past year or so that may have contributed to the problem?

Check your organizational culture: The beliefs, values and behaviors of any organization are contained within its culture. To what extent does the culture support (or not support) people showing up on time and not calling to say they won't be in?

Get 'em engaged: Engaged employees have heir "game face" on and would likely not want to excessively call and not show up or be late. What is your firm's employee-engagement level?

Are your leaders role models? If an employee sees leaders routinely calling to say they won't be in, it sends the message that such behavior is acceptable. How often do your leaders do this or show up late?

Manage your (and their) expectations: An employee who agrees to do a job, then later finds out how grueling it is, will likely not want to show up to work and is likely looking elsewhere for employment. Has your recruitment department made sure candidates fully understand the nature of the job? Is there a consistent message from management?

Clean up the environment: If an employee goes to work in a job where everyone complains about the pay, management and company, then they will tend not to show up. To what extent does your firm have a positive work environment? What are you doing to create it?

Reinforce, recruit, retain: Before hiring anyone, take steps to ensure that the person will show up to work. Once hired, the importance of being at work must be reinforced through a strengths-based model. How well is your firm recruiting and retaining people who share your firm's beliefs? How do you even know?

Pitch the positives: When employees hear positive stories from others who have been successful within the company, they receive a positive message. What does your firm do to motivate employees via internal success stories?

SOURCE: Dana E. Jarvis, adjunct professor, Duquesne University, Palumbo Donahue School of Business, Pittsburgh

LEARN MORE: Thirty percent of workers called in sick during the past year even when they weren't ill, a survey in October by CareerBuilder shows.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.