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How Your Small Business Should Handle No Show Employees

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As a small business owner, your employees may ask off from work but how do you handle no show employees? Asking off work is understandable as everyone needs time off work for a variety of reasons. An employee must notify their employer when they need to take a day off. 

No show employees don’t necessarily mean that the employee has quit. It may mean it is a miscommunication from the lack of clear policies.

Why Would Someone Not Call?

There could be various reasons why someone might not call into work, such as being too ill, experiencing a personal emergency, facing transportation issues, or simply forgetting to call.

As stated above, many times it could be because of a miscommunication. For example, Sally may tell Lisa to tell their manager that she is sick. Sally may even have meant to text her manager, but she forgot. 

Other times, it could be that they are angry about something or they have quit. 

What Happens When Someone Doesn’t Show Up?

When an employee doesn’t show up to work, it can affect your business and your other team members. Usually, someone will have to fill in for that person. You may try to call someone else at the last minute, but it usually falls on the staff that is currently there. 

For example, if you own a janitorial company and you have someone no show without warning you may find yourself placing people in different locations. Furthermore, you may have to notify the client your staff can’t make it that day to clean. 

When that happens, your business will start falling behind and then you may find yourself trying to catch up. Unplanned absences can hurt a small business. It can hurt your small business’s reputation when people miss work.  

What Can You Do to Prevent No Show Employees?

Set Clear Expectations

Make sure employees know when they are expected to work and what the consequences are for not showing up. These expectations should be communicated at the beginning and even at the interview. Include your expectations in your company handbook. Workers should sign that they understand the policies. 

Hire Great Employees

Making smart decisions when hiring employees is crucial. If you implement good hiring practices right from the start, it will become easier. Most hiring is done because of turnover. If you aren’t screening people well, writing good job descriptions, checking references, and writing good policies, you risk hiring bad employees. 

When you hire great employees, they are good communicators and rarely miss work. Good employees follow policies, and they aren’t usually no show employees unless something like an emergency occurs.

If you hire good and they like where they work, they will recommend other top achievers. 

Offer Flexible Scheduling or Remote Work Opportunities

Consider offering flexible scheduling options to accommodate employees’ needs and reduce the likelihood of no-shows. If you can offer flexible scheduling, that will help with babysitting issues and other preventable problems. 

Offer Incentives and Rewards

Research attendance rewards and offer rewards for workers who consistently show up on time and do good work. If you have good employees, find out what motivates them and even giving small rewards shows appreciation. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these rewards. There are many ways to show your employees that you appreciate them. From gift cards to pizza parties. They appreciate being recognized. 

It’s important to establish clear criteria for what is good work and punctuality. Communicate your expectations and standards to your employees. 

Additionally, you may want to consider implementing a performance review process to monitor employee progress and provide feedback on areas for improvement.

Use Technology

Use scheduling software or apps to automate scheduling and send reminders to employees.

By using a time clock app like ezClocker, you can prevent the confusion of whom an employee should tell if they can’t come to work. Because the software is mobile, the employee can request their time off straight from the app. It will send a notification to the manager of this request. Then the employee will also know if their request is approved. 

The app ezClocker is affordable and easy to use. It is ideal for remote employees who aren’t always at the same location. The manager will know instantly if someone requests off, hasn’t clocked in, or isn’t at their location (there is a GPS function to verify).

Need an Affordable Mobile Time Tracking App for Your Employees?

What Policies are Important to Prevent No Show Employees?

Attendance Policy

Your attendance policy should be clear and understood by all your employees. You should include in your attendance policy:

  • Your expectations
  • What absences are considered excused or not excused
  • How to clock in and out
  • What is the required documentation when absent or late
  • Discipline process

A good attendance policy should be flexible enough, so you don’t lose your best employees.

No Call, No Show Policy

Along with your attendance policy, you should write a no show, no call policy. Typically, this is to help prevent miscommunication. For example, if someone doesn’t show up to work one day, it may be because they didn’t report their absence correctly. You may not want to terminate an employee over what could potentially be a mistake. 

Some businesses implement a 3-day no call, no show policy. Then they use their disciplinary process as each day goes by.

  • First day – Verbal Warning
  • Second Day – Written Warning
  • Third Day – Termination

IIf you have someone that has multiple times of no show, no call, then you may want to make sure these discipline methods are concurrent. For example, if they have a no show in January, that would be a verbal warning. If they have a no show in March, that would be a written warning. They should understand that a no show, no call is not tolerated. 

Regardless of what method you implement, employees should know the consequences of no call, no shows. Implementing this policy ensures that you treat everyone fairly just like other policies. It also gives time to correct any miscommunications or problems.  

How to Request a Day Off

Your policies should include written procedures about how to schedule a day off. 

The policy should include:

  • How to request time off
  • How much notice should be given
  • What methods are acceptable to request time off
  • The type of documentation needed
  • How a decision will be made if multiple people request time off on the same day

Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy 

If you can, give your employees PTO. This prevents people from using excuses for why they need time off. It allows them, with notice, to request time off without giving a reason. 

Many times, this can help prevent no show employees because the request was made ahead of time. However, emergencies will happen. You will need to determine if an employee can use PTO for same-day requests. 

Communicate Your Policies

Once you write your policies, it is important to form small groups to communicate them. Ensure every employee knows they cannot just tell anyone if they aren’t going to be at work. They should now follow the correct procedures you have written.

Prepare to listen to your employees and answer their questions. Ensure your policies address them as well. 

Your employees may ask these questions:

  • What do I do if my child is sick, and I don’t have a babysitter?
  • How do I notify someone in case of an emergency?
  • What if my manager isn’t responding to my request for a day off?

Enforce Your Policies

Enforce your policies to prevent future problems. It is very frustrating to managers and employees if someone is not following the policies. If one of your policies isn’t working, it is okay to change it. Just be prepared to let your staff know of the changes. 

Communication, openness, and enforcement of all policies is extremely important. 

Final Thought on No Show Employees

Ensure that everyone understands the burden of what happens to the company when someone doesn’t show up to work. If you have instances where this keeps occurring, you need to review your hiring practices and policies. No show employees should be a rare occurrence, if at all. 

Also, make sure you understand your federal and state laws. It is important that you know that the policies you write follow laws. Communicate your expectations from the beginning, before they even start work.

If you have good communication, hire good employees, implement a great timekeeping app, and write good policies, you shouldn’t have problems and can prevent no show employees. 


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.

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