Regardless of the size of your company, your business can’t succeed when your employees aren’t showing up to work. Not only does lateness put you in a tight spot –it also impacts your bottom line –more than you may know.

But how do you go about getting your employees show up on time? How can you enable your company to run like a well-oiled machine?

While there are a number of things that you can do to combat employee tardiness, the first order of business is establishing clear expectations. This means ensuring that you have a policy in place that clearly spells out your requirements for employee attendance, and consequences for consistently late employees. It’s important for your team to know what’s expected of them, what’s not acceptable –and what they can expect should they continue to disregard your policy.

With this in mind let’s take a look at a few things that every employee attendance policy should include.

1.Employee Work Hours

First, it’s important to document your workers’ hours. For companies that have employees on different schedules, this means outlining all of the different shifts. It also means including information on how to sign in, the procedure for requesting time off, as well as the process of notification should an unexpected illness or injury prevent the worker from coming into work.

2.Defined Late or Missed Hours

Similarly, it’s important to clearly define what constitutes tardiness. Is there a grace period, or a buffer that workers have before they are formally tardy? When is your employee considered to be absent and not simply late? How many times can your employee be late before you take action? Having the answers to these questions –clearly defined in your policy will help to ensure that your employees understand exactly what’s required of them.

3.Clear Disciplinary Action

Next, you should also be clear as to what disciplinary measures will be taken if your employees are late too frequently. For example, late twice in the same pay period could result in a verbal warning, while subsequent tardiness could result in a written warning, followed by a disciplinary meeting, where you discuss the worker’s tardiness in an attempt to find a solution. Many companies use a points system, where workers accrue points for tardiness and other infractions –other companies opt to use a rolling attendance system –where the attendance infractions on a six-month or 12-month period are recorded. One the time period ends the record is cleared and the calculations begin again. If lateness persists, a formal disciplinary procedure may be necessary.

4.Employee Leave Rules

Your policy should also include the rules regarding time off. This includes how far in advance they are required to book, and how many days off per year they are entitled to. Putting your rules and conditions in writing can help to ensure that you and your employees are both on the same page when it comes to time off, while at the same time closing potential loop holes.

5.Federal, State, and Local Laws

Some laws require allowable or protected leave for things such as serving on a jury, attending school events, and donating blood. Be sure to have a look at the Department of Work and Labor’s website to ensure compliance –and research local and state regulations and include them in your attendance policy.

6.A Morale Booster

Finally, your attendance policy shouldn’t all be doom and gloom. The best attendance procedures also include a reward system. This is a great way to recognize employees who have perfect, or very good attendance records. This, in turn, can encourage other employees to strive towards on-time attendance as well.

Finally, while a chronically late worker can be a significant drain on your company resources –it’s important to always listen to your employee’s reasons for lateness. Lateness is often an indicator that there are problems with the worker’s ability to meet current requirements and hours –if this is the case, you may want to consider allowing flexible hours –if it’s a viable option for your company.