Punctuality, good attendance will have positive impact on workplace

14 October 2012 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Lionel Wijesiri
For years, Nihal, a Senior Executive, could be counted on to be late. Got a lunch meeting at 11:30 a.m.? Nihal will be there at 11:40. Got a presentation at 9:00 a.m.? Nihal will be there at 9:20. Is there a meeting at 6:00 p.m.? Nihal’s there by 6:30. Work hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Nihal is in by 9:00.
People joked about it. It was Nihal ‘thing’ — He was on ‘Nihal time’. It was all very funny — until he realized that the same people that joked about it showed, time and again, that they didn’t trust him to get things done — that, indeed, they saw him as an incompetent person who couldn’t even get it together enough to be on time.

It took Nihal a while to figure all this out but once he did, he made a concerted effort to be on time — or usually early — for every appointment. With a few exceptions, he is on time too — and every exception is an opportunity for him to learn how better to manage the same circumstances next time.

Progressive discipline
As a management professional, I have dealt with a plethora of employee issues. But I’ve found over the years, there’s one issue that plagues managers more than all these other issues combined: Attendance and punctuality.
I would honestly say the majority of the employee discipline I’ve seen or been involved with has to do with either (1) people not showing up to work or (2) people not showing up on time.
Organisations have contributed to this matter with some progressive discipline. Let’s say you have an employee with an attendance problem. They’re coached, given a verbal warning and then maybe a few written warnings. The next step in progressive discipline is, of course, suspension. But if not showing up to work is the problem… why would companies give employees time off as discipline? It reminds me of an old Bill Cosby routine where his wife sends him to his room… which is where he wanted to be in the first place.

Punctuality
Let us talk first about punctuality. This habit matters, at least in today’s business societies. Being on time, every time, conveys far more than just a good sense of timing. It tells people that you’re on top of things, that you’re organised, that you can be counted on, that you value them and ultimately, that you value yourself.
  • Punctuality shows mastery
Being on time consistently shows everyone around you that you are the master of your life. It demonstrates foresight — the ability to predict possible hang-ups — and adaptability — the ability to change your plans to accommodate those hang-ups.
  • Punctuality shows competence
Someone who shows, over and over, that they are the master of their time is someone who will be taken seriously in areas far removed from time management. That foresight and adaptability that gets you where you need to be, when you need to be there, tells the people around you that you can handle whatever is thrown at you.
  • Punctuality shows integrity
Punctuality is also a trust issue. When you make an appointment, you are making a commitment to be where you said you’d be when you said you’d be there. The only way you build up other people’s trust in you is by consistently meeting your commitments — and that starts with being punctual.
  • Punctuality shows you value people
People are busy — too busy to be waiting on you while their other work goes unfinished. Being punctual shows, clearly and truly, that you value their time and by extension that you value them as a person. It says, “Let’s make this time we’ve arranged as productive as possible so we can both get on with all our other important stuff.”
  • Punctuality shows you value yourself
Finally, being on time shows you value your time — and yourself. First of all, being repeatedly late is a self-destructive behaviour — why else would you risk not landing the big client, losing your job, or insulting those around you? And everyone knows that most self-destructive behaviour follows from low self-esteem. Even if it’s not true, that’s the perception you’re allowing others.

Ever wonder how it is that people who seem perfectly reasonable, intelligent and otherwise considerate somehow never learn to be on time?
Manage time.  Many people run late because they suddenly realize, in a mad rush, that there are so many things that must be done before they can leave. Which tasks or activities prevent you from being on time? Which tasks or activities can you defer to a later time and which can you tackle at an earlier time? Within that list, there are activities you could’ve done the night before, things you must do in the morning and finally, things you can wait to do until you get home from work later.  
Where did the time go? You thought there was going to be enough time to relax before getting ready, but it turns out you were wrong again. And guess what? You’re surprised... again. Do the important things first! When you’re all ready to leave, then you can see how much spare time there is to watch that Star Trek rerun.

Predicting commute time. Make the effort to observe the average duration of your commute. If your route is unfamiliar, give yourself extra time than what your mind tells you is sufficient. Watch the weather and traffic reports.
Aim to be early. Beneath all of the bafflement and lack of progress is a genuinely different perception of time itself. If you’re aiming to be on time, but always end up late, then aim to be early. Consistent punctuality might be the happy result of your adjustment.
Make punctuality a priority. As much as Nihal told himself and others that he could never figure out why he was late all the time, he ultimately came to terms with perhaps the most fundamental reason for his tardiness: He hadn’t made punctuality a priority. His de-emphasis had become a handicap. And yet, he knew that, to many important people in his life, the tardiness conveyed a lack of consideration for them and their time.  

Attendance
Now, let us go to the problem of employee absenteeism. While punishing employees for missing work days might decrease the problem somewhat, it doesn’t deal with underlying causes and might even worsen the problem. For example, if a worker having flu doesn’t stay home, other workers can get sick.
The managers should work with their human resources department or a professional consultant to determine a reasonable level of attendance considering the industry they are in. Only once you have a thorough understanding of the situation, the managers should take whatever steps they can to improve employee attendance.
A company can succeed only if employees perform their duties, but that is impossible if certain employees regularly refuse to show up to work. A lack of employee attendance can cause productivity to slip, backorders to pile up and other employees to begin taking days off.
To curb poor attendance, the company management must look at the workplace environment and the needs of employees and make necessary adjustments.

Solutions
Rewarding employees who regularly come to work and have good punctuality records can give positive results. Rewarding employees with good attendance/good punctuality tells them that the company appreciates them and it sends a message of disapproval to employees with poor marks.
Rewards for meeting a predetermined attendance mark and punctuality mark can include extra personal days, bonuses or awards.
Conducting a survey of employee satisfaction and making changes accordingly is another idea. If the workplace environment does not cater to the employees, workers will not be as eager to show up.

The management can also ease the burden of work by offering activities that employees can enjoy during breaks. A dartboard or pool table in the break room can lessen work-related stress, making the work environment more enjoyable for employees.
Finally, I believe that all organisations should take a look at their attendance-related policies and make sure they align with pay and performance guidelines. I can’t help but think consistency in this area would have a positive impact on the workplace.

(The writer is a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience. He can be contacted at lionwije@live.com)

 
    

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  • ahmad fahim Saturday, 13 September 2014 08:33 AM

    Employment is a big challenge to all, but why employed people are not on time have absentism? in my opinion working is part of life, but people have to work to earn for living not just for working itself; on the other hand, people working for more than usual working hours i.e. 8hrs/d, get more tired and it affect their normal living e.g. rest or sleeping. Also, working in very tough jobs make employee much tired and when have not enough time for rest, they will not be fresh for next day work.

    In some extent it is more usual where there are more job opportunities and social support from Governments.

    The cause of being late and absentism should be identified and dealt accordingly. Some employees may need more support and attention specially when their works are valuable for organization/company.


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