How to Prevent Part-Time Employees From Skipping Out On Their Shifts

Address problems head on

There comes a point with hourly employees where you may find a surge in people asking to drop shifts, exchange shifts, or making up excuses as to why they can’t work certain shifts or certain days. Even if you have enough employees who are eager to pickup shifts in these instances, last-minute schedules changes can be confusing and can create responsibility and payroll problems later on. Showing up for a scheduled shift is a basic expectation your employees should understand, and if you find that some of your part-time employees are frequently skipping out on this expectation, it’s time to create a system to address the problem and solve it. Here are some ways you can keep your part-time employees from skipping out on their shifts.

Lead by example

Examine your own attendance record before you harp on that of your employees. Do you find that you frequently cut your shifts short or arrange your schedule to your liking on a more than emergency-level basis? It’s basic human instinct to pick up habits and attitudes from people around us, especially from authority figures. If you show a dedication to the schedule and work that you yourself as manager set for yourself, and you make a point to be consistent about your own attendance, your employees will be more likely to do the same. If you find that you are frequently adjusting your own schedule, your employees will feel that you do not value their time and it opens up the mindset for them that time commitment is not an essential part of the job.

Hold them accountable

If someone is abusing the schedule and frequently skipping out on shifts, you must address the problem head on and hold that person accountable. Have a serious conversation with your employees to determine the cause of the behavior. Understandably family emergencies or personal problems can affect an employee’s time commitment to their jobs, and it’s up to you to decide how you wish to address these delicate situations. If an employee frequently skips out for unimportant or chronically uses the same excuses however, you must let them know the behavior is unacceptable. Create a system of accountability for attendance issues. Start out with a firm verbal warning and progress to a period of “probations” such as reducing their given hours each week or giving them more undesirable shifts until they earn back your trust. Be sure to communicate why you are doing this and how they can change their behavior to get off probation.

Create an incentive

If you feel your employees respond better to positive reinforcement, create an incentive program for attendance. Keep a monthly record of shifts missed or dropped (if you have a large variation of hours among your employees of number of shifts or hours, consider keeping track of each employee’s percentage of missed/dropped shifts to make it more fair) and recognize the employees who have the top attendance. It’s up to you whether you recognize just the employee who did the best that month, only those who had perfect attendance, or a number of top employees. Reward them with a privileged set of responsibilities for the next month, with a gift card, or with getting out of a detested task for a certain amount of time such as not being on bathroom duty. Create a type of competition that will motivate your employees, but remember that while incentive programs may help in some cases, showing up for a shift is a basic expectation of your employees so they should not be overly rewarded (they are already being paid, after all).

Use innovative scheduling technology

Many times employees don’t show up for shifts because they oversleep, they forget, or they misread the schedule. Employee scheduling software such as When I Work can help you set up reminders for your employees, allow them to adjust their availability when need be (instead of forgetting to submit time off until the last minute), and easily view and access the schedule so they can plan around their work schedules. If employees do need to switch or drop a shift, they have the option to see who else is available and can then make the switch only after the manager has approved it.

Get to the bottom of it

Before making any radical changes or jumping to conclusions, it’s important to figure out the cause of the problem and what you can do to make it easier for your employees to show up for their shifts. Consider that there may be a regular who treats an employee unkindly who they are trying to avoid, or your employee may be unenthusiastic about showing up to their shift because they are bored by lack of responsibility, or maybe getting up too early or staying up to late for their shift is causing your employee to become fatigued. Sit down and have a conversation to figure out if there is anything you can do as a manager for your employee to make their working experience better before deciding they are too lazy and unmotivated to work for you. It may be that they simply feel uncomfortable approaching you about a deeper issue, so it’s always a good idea as manager to be the first to open up a trusting and comfortable line of communication at the first sign of an issue.

How do you ensure that your part-time employees show up for their shifts? Share your tips and techniques in the comments section below.