Increasing Employee Attendance With Incentives

employee attendance

Employee absenteeism can cripple a business

Unexpected absences and no-shows in your workplace can put a serious cramp in your business.

An average 3.2% of employees are unexpectedly absent everyday due to illness, injury, or medical problems; child care problems; other family or personal obligations; civic or military duty; and more.

As a local staffing agency specializing in the industries and occupations below, the absence rates that we pay close attention to vary:

  • Production: 4.0%
  • Administrative & Office: 3.8%
  • Warehouse: 3.7%
  • Manufacturing: 3.1%

Not only do poor attendance numbers put strain on employee morale and productivity, it can also be costly in overtime pay when playing catch-up, regardless of the industry you’re in.

Attendance issues often pull supervisors away from their regular job duties as they jump in to help out and update production schedules as necessary.

If your company is experiencing a rise in attendance issues and you find yourself wondering what a company’s gotta do when it comes to increasing attendance and navigating the challenges that absenteeism brings, read on. Attendance incentives might be just what you need.

absent employee

Before You Start: What’s Your Attendance Policy?

Before you plan an attendance incentive program it’s wise to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Are incentives really needed, or is there a bigger issue at stake?

Review your attendance policy with fresh eyes and ask yourself:

Are we allowing poor behavior?

Does our present attendance policy match the current employment market?

At Bonney, our inherent belief is that people matter. Attendance is an important part of employment, but so is empathy and understanding. We encourage all companies to keep the “kind” in humankind and understand that unplanned absenteeism isn’t an employee’s way of intentionally harming productivity.

No one plans on being sick, their child’s daycare closing, or their car being in the shop getting repaired. Unless absenteeism is a chronic issue, punishing employees should be the last resort.

So if your attendance policy is solid and poor behavior is not being tolerated, an incentive program to reward correct habits and behavior is a great place to start.

warehouse team celebrating

The 5 Best Examples of Employee Attendance Incentive Programs

Without further ado, here are five incentive ideas for all budgets:

Free food

We can probably count on one hand the number of people who would turn down free food. Incent them through their taste buds. For every week or month they work their scheduled shift in full, treat them to a catered breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on the shift they work.


Give the gift of time: a chance to leave early or come in late, a longer lunch break, an extra vacation day. Seems ironic to reward attendance by giving employees time off, but it’s something everyone will appreciate.

Gift cards

Gas cards are always useful. Or use an online incentive solution (we use Cooleaf) where employees can choose their own gift card based on their tastes.

Think bigger

If budget allows, consider a large ticket item like a tv, tablet, bike, professional sports tickets, etc. Make it a month-long drawing, where an employee’s name gets thrown in the hat for each week of perfect attendance.

Completion Bonus

For shorter term contract projects, we’ve found completion bonuses to be enticing. These work well especially for office and professional roles.

office incentive winner

Attendance Incentives Work

This isn’t an exhaustive list of attendance incentives; rather, it’s intended to give you an idea of where to start. Even the smallest changes can show significant returns.

Incentives that are customized to your company culture, industry, and employees can make a big impact.

Lastly, a local staffing agency (like Bonney) can help round out your team due to absences, whether employees are needed for a short term, long term, or right now. We’ve helped many clients create attendance incentive programs and improve their workforce overall — and we’d love to help you, too.

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