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In Manufacturing, Employee Attendance Can Be The Difference Between Profit And Loss.

In the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, it’s reported that absenteeism in the manufacturing industry exceeds $2.8 billion in lost productivity. The bottom line is that worker attendance could actually be the difference in your bottom line. We all know the top causes of absenteeism in industrial workplaces. But, let’s do a quick review:

  • Bullying & Harassment
  • Burnout, Stress & Low Morale
  • Childcare & Eldercare
  • Depression
  • Disengagement
  • Illness
  • Injuries
  • Job Hunting
  • Partial Shifts

Most studies attribute absenteeism costs to weigh-in at $3,600 per year, per hourly worker. Let’s just say your factory employs 250 workers, that’s an impact to your P&L of $900,000 annually, a rather large price to pay for a problem that could be resolved for a fraction of the cost. Yet, in a study conducted by AON Hewitt, it was discovered that only 36% of the 1,200 employers surveyed actually measured the impact of employee absences on their profitability.

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There are many ways to stay ahead of shift scheduling issues within a manufacturing facility, but here’s a list of five, sure-fire ways to improve time and attendance in a factory that will go a long way in restoring productivity costs while enhancing your bottom line.

  1. Write Your Attendance Policy: It seems simple enough, but many factory employers don’t have a written policy. If you don’t have an HR Department, there are plenty of HR consultants who can draft a customized policy for you, or there are valuable tips online that you can use to create your own policy. In any event, you must formalize your expectations, define tardiness, for example arriving to work 15 minutes late, and define what excessive absence is, six unplanned absences in a six-month period, for instance.
  2. Establish Time and Attendance Expectations: This is an essential component to a successful time and attendance strategy in factories. You will need to make the expectations abundantly clear in all orientation meetings including making certain each employee knows who to contact, or how to contact the plant if running late or missing work entirely. Further, every worker needs to understand the consequences of their absences in a well-defined document so there’s no opportunity to cite confusion as a factor.
  3. Provide Support to Your Workers: We’ve discussed the reasons for most absences, but manufacturing facilities today have made great strides in offering Employee Assistance Programs for their workers. Plant Managers understand that keeping employees healthy and well is far less costly than training new employees, covering the costs of absenteeism, and knowing that a satisfied workforce is almost always a more productive workforce. Also, EAPs increase employee engagement by making workers feel their Supervisors or Managers care about their well-being; this enhances loyalty to the corporation for a small cost.
  4. Reward a Good Attendance Record: There are all sorts of ways to reward workers who, say, might not have missed an unplanned day of work over a 12 month period. Some manufacturing companies are more creative than others, but recognizing those who work hard to be at work is an extremely effective way to ensure better worker attendance. Some might choose to offer a merit pay increase, others reward superior attendance with a extra day-off or two, while others pay the costs of a coffee and donut break in honor of the worker.
  5. Use Technology to Address Workforce Management Opportunities: Time and Attendance software from companies like Workloud can have a direct impact on lowering worker absences. First, by providing flexibility for volunteering, shift-swapping, and a more deliberate system for vacation time requests, workers feel more engaged. Second, through mobile applications provided by time and attendance companies, employees can communicate directly with their supervisors if an unplanned event materializes. Third, with technology like this, particularly from Workloud, notifications are happening real-time, demand based employee scheduling occur with “on-the-fly” precision, and you’ll be able to effectively manage all leave requests based on the rules you have established 

There are plenty of other ways to drive better attendance on the factory floor, but starting with these simple and straightforward ideas will help alleviate the challenges of absenteeism almost immediately.

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Originally published December 18, 2017, updated February 15, 2018
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