Attendance Is the Gateway to Professional Success

Attendance Is the Gateway to Professional Success

Attendance is the key to boosting team morale and operational efficiency
importance of attendance at work

“Showing up is half the battle.” 

This timeless expression, which emphasizes the importance of one’s presence in the moment, has been circulated for years. 

While showing up is of the utmost importance in most walks of life, it’s crucially important in the workplace, as one can’t perform if he or she is not present. Employees who are ready and willing, both physically and mentally, drive team morale, customer service, operational efficiency, the company’s culture, and much more. 

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of attendance, its impact on employees’ well-being, common consequences for missed days, how to best track employee attendance, and more. 

So, when we call your name, raise your hand and let us know you’re here – just like you did back in grade school!

Factors Affecting Employee Attendance

While perfect attendance at work is highly admirable, it’s a rare accomplishment. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the absence rate for full-time wage and salaried workers is 3.2%. This means, on average, 3.2% of the workforce is absent from work on regular workdays. 

While employees may have the best intentions of arriving each and every day, there are various internal and external factors affecting their attendance. We've listed many of them below.  

Personal Occurrences

Illness: Human beings get sick -- that's just a fact of life. Common ailments, such as colds, the flu, chronic illnesses, or injuries, are prevalent among workers. In fact, according to TeamSense, illness accounted for 33.71% of all employee absences in 2023. 

Mental Health: The pressures and responsibilities of work can have a lasting impact on employees, leading to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. If and when these issues occur, employees may opt for time off to recover. According to Spill, one in six employees experiences mental health issues in the workplace. 

Family Responsibilities: As a family’s caretaker, it’s your responsibility to protect your dependents. If and when an emergency arises, the head of the household may have to skip work or exit his or her place of employment to tend to the matter. 

Personal Appointments: Workers, especially those working first or second shift, may have to leave work to tend to personal matters, including doctor visits, dental appointments, legal responsibilities, etc. 

Bereavement: The passing of a loved one is never an easy situation, and nor is it ever convenient. Accordingly, an employee may need time off of work to tend to a funeral or grieve these occurences.

Job Dissatisfaction: Workers who wake up unhappy about their jobs, work environment, or managers may be unwilling to show up. An Alright survey found that 34% of surveyed employees dread starting their workday, an 11% increase since 2020.  

Burnout: Working long hours, day in and day out, at a high level, is leading many employees to burnout. Once employees hit this breaking point, a few recovery days away from work may be in order. According to a 2022 survey by McKinsey Health, approximately 25% of employees experienced burnout in 2022. 

Workplace Conflicts: Confrontational workplace relationships may cause some workers to avoid showing up to work. These uncomfortable situations are more common than you may think. Per the CPP Global Human Capital Report, approximately 85% of employees will experience workplace conflict in their professional careers. 

External Factors

While personal and professional factors drive attendance, many other external factors do as well. A few examples include:

Transportation Troubles: Automobile accidents, breakdowns, or public transportation delays may factor into one’s ability to arrive on time. 

Inclement Weather: When Mother Nature rears her will, the fallout can be devastating. Natural events, such as thunderstorms, snowstorms, hail, floods, lightning strikes, etc., may prevent employees from attending work. 

Legal Obligations: If an employee is summoned to court to testify, serve jury duty, or other legal obligations, he or she may be forced to miss work. 

Consequences for Poor Attendance

If an employee habitually misses work – on his or her own accord or not – consequences must be established. The best way to establish these penalties is to clearly define them in writing within the company’s employee handbook. Such a policy should state the consequences for each attendance infraction, from isolated events to those that are recurring, spelling out the punishments for each. If the penalty for a tardy differs from that for an unexcused absence, the policy should define the parameters for each. 

Additionally, such a policy should clearly identify the discipline process, noting when actions require a verbal warning, written notification, suspension, or termination and how those consequences are executed. 

For a step-by-step guide on how to build an attendance policy, visit this OnTheClock blog article. 

Detrimental Impact of Absenteeism 

Occasional absences from work are inevitable, as people may need time off for various reasons. However, excessive and unexplained absences can have significant consequences for both employees and employers. Outside of the occupational consequences that may follow in the workplace, repeated absenteeism may negatively impact employees and employers in various other ways, including:

Decreased Productivity: Excessive absences can result in a decrease in overall productivity. When an employee is absent, that increased workload may result in potential service delays. Additionally, employees who miss habitually may fall behind, especially if they miss training or educational sessions.

Financial Impact: Absenteeism can have a significant financial impact on a company. Employers may need to hire temporary replacements (which comes at a cost) or pay overtime to cover the workload of absent employees. Any delay in production or the delivery of goods or services may also result in a loss of revenue. Additionally, employees who miss work may have to dip into their paid time off (PTO) banks. If and when those PTO days are spent, the employee will not be paid for missed days. Finally, any dip in productivity may impact the company’s year-end revenue-sharing program, affecting bonuses employees may receive.

Increased Workload for Coworkers: When employees are absent, their tasks and responsibilities are often reassigned to coworkers. When employees take on additional responsibilities, their personal workloads may suffer. Additionally, they may not be skilled enough to cover assigned tasks, which may lead to increased stress and a dip in job satisfaction.

Negative Impact on Morale: Frequent absences can have a negative impact on team morale. Coworkers may feel burdened by the additional workload and become frustrated or resentful toward the absent employee, creating a tense work environment. This negativity may affect overall team dynamics.

Health and Safety Concerns: If an employee comes to work while sick, it can pose health and safety risks to both the employee and his or her colleagues. Illnesses can spread quickly in a workplace, leading to more employees getting sick and potentially impacting productivity. Additionally, assigning tasks to temporary employees who may lack the skills necessary to adequately perform the job may put them at risk of injury. 

Legal Implications: The consequences of missing work can also have legal implications. Employment laws vary by jurisdiction, but, in some cases, employers may have the right to terminate an employee for excessive absenteeism. 

Key Benefits of Good Employee Attendance

While employees should be punished for habitual absences that extend beyond the company’s allowances, they should also be praised when upholding exceptional attendance. Such perks may include: 

Incentives for Employees

Additional Compensation: Money talks! Rewarding consistent employees with pay increases is an outstanding way to promote the importance of being on time all the time. Financial rewards demonstrate a company’s commitment to its employees in the same manner an employee’s consistent attendance does to his or her employer. According to Workplace Insight, attendance bonuses actively decrease absenteeism by approximately 45%. 

Incentives: Allowing employees with outstanding attendance records to trade in unused sick days for cash or gifts or carry these days over to the subsequent year is yet another formidable option. 

Recognition: Consider publicizing the names of employees with perfect attendance records in your break room or celebrating such achievements during an end-of-the-year party. 

Reserved Parking Spot: Rewarding an employee with a close parking spot tagged with his or her name is an outstanding way to recognize exemplary attendance. 

Promotions: Promoting your most consistent employees can serve as a great recognition for attendance and performance. Assigning advanced titles or adding the word "senior" to an employee's title is yet another option. 

Incentives for Employers

Consistent attendance benefits employers as well. A few of these benefits are listed below. 

Enhanced Productivity: Present, punctual employees tend to be more productive than those who miss habitually. Employees who are on-site and willing to work boost efficiency and provide a smoother workflow. And, a more pristine workplace process leads to greater output. 

Company Culture: Consistent attendance fosters a sense of reliability and trust among colleagues. Employees who trust their peers tend to work better together, benefiting the company’s productivity. 

Reputation: Employees who answer the bell consistently build a reputation as reliable, trusted workers. If and when an important task needs to be completed, most bosses will call upon employees they know they can trust. The same sentiment holds true when it’s time to assign promotions. 

Financial Stability: Absences may result in reduced pay, loss of benefits, or termination. A consistent attendance record ensures job security and stability. 

Cost Savings: While employees who work more are compensated for it, the cost of absenteeism is exponentially more. Absenteeism costs U.S. employers approximately $2,945 per employee per year, per Kaiser Permanente. This does not account for the price that accompanies recruiting employees, hiring temporary staff, etc.

Methods to Track Employee Attendance

Regardless of a company’s size, tracking employee attendance can be a challenge. With so many people coming and going, keeping accurate records, remaining compliant, and ensuring proper coverage may be exhausting. 

There are several methods to tracking employee attendance, including pen and paper, spreadsheets, punch clocks, etc.; however, none are as effective as modern-day time tracking software. And, while we may be biased, we feel the solution offered by OnTheClock offers the best bang for the buck. Here are a few reasons why: 

Mobile Time Clock: OnTheClock’s cloud-based interface allows users to clock in and out from the convenience of their smartphones, tablets, or computers. This accessibility eliminates excuses and minimizes manual punch errors.  

Geolocation and GPS Tracking: GPS tracking ensures employees are clocking in at specific locations, which is especially helpful when monitoring remote or mobile employees. 

Real-Time Monitoring: Managers can see who’s punched in and when they started using OnTheClock’s “Who’s In” feature. Additionally, alerts can be set up to notify managers of employees who leave early, miss a clock in, or fail to punch in altogether, helping to ensure shifts are covered adequately and efficiently. 

PTO Management: Employees can submit PTO requests at their convenience via their smart devices and managers can review, approve, or deny such requests instantaneously. Employees also have access to their PTO banks 24/7 and managers can monitor leave schedules and create customized reports demonstrating how much leave time is left for each employee and who’s currently scheduled for leave time.

Payroll Integration: Attendance data can be synced with third-party payroll software to streamline the payment process. Additionally, wages (including overtime) may be calculated automatically, minimizing manual errors.  


Perhaps it’s time to start looking at things from a different perspective. Instead of saying “Showing up is half the battle,” maybe we should view showing up as necessary as breathing. And, even in today’s politically correct society, no one receives a ribbon for breathing. 

OnTheClock is a comprehensive time management solution that helps employees maximize every minute, ensuring time spent is utilized wisely. Amongst all of these aforementioned features, OnTheClock users report increased accuracy, enhanced productivity, significant cost savings, increased employee accountability, quicker payroll, and more. Try OnTheClock free for 30 days and discover why 157,000-plus individuals rely on the software in their professional lives each and every day. Download it today at

OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

Written by

Herb Woerpel

Herb Woerpel is a copywriter with OnTheClock. He has 17-plus years of professional journalism experience working for community and national media outlets.

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