Reducing Poor Attendance in Plants

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Poor Attendance in Plants

Whether you have a factory or a warehouse, it is very problematic when team members display poor attendance in plants during their scheduled hours. The absence rates in plants average around 2.9%. That means if you have 200 people expected for work, you are down around six people daily.

You often have to hire more help to ensure you can run the production scheduled for that day and meet deadlines. 

How Absenteeism Impacts Teams and Overall Plant Performance

A leadership team we worked with had an abnormally high absenteeism rate. To ensure operations could continue as planned, they hired extra workers from temporary agencies to fill in. They did not realize that this approach cost them more than a quarter of a million dollars to plug the absenteeism gap in their production pipeline.

By working with their supervisors and management team in both training and strategizing, we were able to affect a 50% reduction in absenteeism.

That was using a twofold strategy.

First, we had to address the chronic absenteeism of team members, and then we focused on creating a workplace where everyone wanted to come to work.

Reduce Absenteeism in Plants

Number One: Define the Problem 

If we were to focus purely on the surface level, we would assume that absenteeism is the problem. However, there is a strategy called “The Five Why Method” for getting to the root cause.

Why are people not coming to work?

Dig deeper and step into the position of your absent team members. By stepping into that role, you can diagnose if they do not find the work rewarding or are experiencing negative interactions with coworkers or their managers.

Define the problem by learning the root cause to take steps to correct it.

Number Two: Address Chronic Absenteeism

Instead of generalizing and declaring that everybody is absent too often, you will find that you can apply the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. This rule suggests that a relatively small number of workers are absent more than others and will, sometimes, take advantage of policies. 

At times, the real issue is something that an individual is experiencing within their personal life. You must look at those who are chronically absent and apply corrective conversations.

From that point, you can assess and determine if progressive discipline is necessary. Communicate the impact the individual has on the company when they are absent. Explain why their attendance is required at the times they are scheduled.

Number Three: Create the Desire To Come To Work

Everyone is faced with the decision each day from the moment they wake up if they “feel” like going to work today.

The options are:

  • “Yes! I need the income.”
  • “Maybe, but______.”
  • “I am not feeling overly motivated, so perhaps not.”

If the last two dialogues occur, it could lead to the decision to “call in sick” or to “call off work.” Many managers assume that the paycheck alone motivates team members to be present in the workplace.  

The reality is there are a lot of other aspects that are present when people go to work. It could be:

  • The social aspect of interacting with their coworkers.
  • The relationship that they have with their boss.
  • The nature of the work and whether they feel challenged, motivated, and supported.

Focus on the things which can usually be addressed by increasing the leadership capability of your team. 

Further Training for Front Line Leaders

How do you optimize other strengths to increase your capability as a front line leader? That is where we come in with our Front Line Leadership Training Program.

We offer On-Site or Virtual Programs to deliver to your teams or our new Front Line Leadership On Demand Program that allows learning on your own time and schedule.

Visit our website at, and then we can discuss how we can improve the leadership effectiveness in your organization.