When I started working at the Car Assembly Plant I quickly became overwhelmed about how fixated and anal the Senior Management Team was about Team Member Attendance. Attendance seemed to have a higher priority than any other Key Performance Indicator.
So one day during a lull in the action i cornered my Sensei and asked why such a profound attention towards attendance. His answer ultimately made a lot of sense ....
"A Poor Attender is likely a Poor Performer and a Poor Performer will generate Poor Quality. Although Quality is our most important product attribute, if i focus discipline towards Quality Performance I will lose being blamed on lack of or poor training or lack of proper jigs and fixtures. If I focus on Performance, it will take years of documentation and a good chance that the Team Member will be allowed to stay and during this journey of documentation that person will invade our culture like a cancer. But ... Attendance is digital, the Team Member is either here or they are not so i can manage this situation in a progressive manner."
So what did the mechanics of Attendance Management look like?
It started with the foundational understanding that all humans can only give one gift ... the Gift of Time. Should they chose to give your organization their Gift of Time, then as an organization you really need to cherish what has been granted to you.
It started as a Senior Team we were required to be present at the entrance randomly during the month at precisely 15 minutes before start of shift to shift start. All Team Members who entered our facility during this window were warmly greeted and tanked for their presence. You would think more Team Members would schedule to arrive during this window, but the opposite happened they seemed to arrive earlier. Lesson Learned, is that Senior Management is respected but not loved. The message from Senior Management to the team ... "I have your Team Members inside the building it is now your responsibility to have them ready in time at their work stations.
Then when a casual absence occurred it became a huge deal ... and I mean really huge! Even for the first occurrence the Team Member was granted an immediate meeting with the President. During this meeting the President extolled how important the Team Member was to the operation and how they were feeling now? Depending on the Team Member response they may or may not return to operations. In the majority of situations the Team Member is not allowed to perform any function that would put them in direct contact with a vehicle being built.
Subsequent meetings with the President and the Team Member become more progressive and concerning:
second | more emphatic discussion about physical presence
third | Visit your Doctor and get checked out, let us know what we can do.
fourth | get checked out by our company Doctor
fifth | take the day off with pay and write a plan to improve and why stay.
sixth | introduced to a career transition coach (out placement)
Other Lessons Learned
I have applied this methodology in several other organizations with amazing results where typically casual absenteeism has reduced to under 1.5% where it had been as high as 14-16%. So here is what i have learned ...
Most employees think it is acceptable to be sick 1 day per month (5%), it is not.
I love giving frequent rewards but of small value and i do my best to make the reward Team Based not individual. If the Team had perfect attendance during the prior pay period they get to select a gift card usually around a $10.00 value redeemable at McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Starbucks's. In this manner Team peers help to encourage perfect attendance.
I make my attendance tracking very visual. This usually creates a lot of Disturbance, but I advise the team that we track Production, We track Quality and part of Health & Safety we include the tracking of attendance. If a Team Member is away I never disclose why, just that they are absent.
I spend a lot of time tracking where absents are occurring, since this happens in departments with poor moral or not ideal work environments (great opportunity for Continuous Improvement). I also look for trends, such as a certain day of the week or a particular day in the month, in case there is something more extracurricular that we can do for our Team Member.
Ohhh .. as a Senior Leader as I focus on getting our Team Members into the facility, my Team can then focus more on meeting those Quality and Productivity Numbers we established during our Strategic Planning workshop.
I love our Visual Attendance methodology for many reasons. People know we care and deal with poor attenders. I do not need to hire as much head-count to back-fill absents and ultimately although my casual absents significantly drop by productivity increases exponentially greater than the drop in absents.
There are still more benefits and mechanics to having a strong program so feel free to connect with me for additional coaching and guidance.