How Employee Attendance Point Systems Work
Aug 12, 2022   |   By TeamSense

How Employee Attendance Point Systems Work

What are the pros and cons of an employee point system and is it possible to use point systems to reduce absenteeism?

Between rewards cards, sports games, and loyalty programs, it’s safe to say most people like their points systems. There’s just something about seeing hard work pay off by watching scores go up and up. But all that changes when it comes to attendance point systems for employees. While loyalty points at your local coffee joint get you closer to a free cup of java, attendance points get you closer to disciplinary action. And just like decaf coffee–nobody wants that.

To keep a productive hourly workforce running, employees must show up on time and be ready to work. Having an attendance point system can help keep absences in check.

What Is an Attendance Point System?

An employee attendance point system is an absence management method that gives out points each time a team member is late or absent for the day. One point might not mean much, but once the points rack up, they can lead to different levels of discipline for the team member (even being fired). Yikes. On the flip side, employees without points can gain rewards for having great attendance.

How Does an Attendance Point System Work?

Like we said earlier, the more points you have to your name, the worse things are. When employees are late or absent, they accumulate points. Basically, the total number of points an employee has will determine if they receive a warning, are put on probation, or are at risk of termination. The stakes get higher and higher as the attendance points add up.

For example, if an hourly worker piles up 10 points within one calendar year, then they get a verbal warning. When they hit 20 points, they receive a written warning that goes in their employee file. At 30 points, employees are at risk of being fired.

So, how do team members avoid adding points to their name? Simple. By making sure their absences or late arrivals are few and far between and cleared with their managers in advance.

Attendance Point System Examples

If a company has a disciplinary point system for employees, they probably have all the ins and outs of how their points stack up in the attendance policy. And although each company might have its own point system for employees, some companies follow the same point system for all locations.

If you’re making your own attendance point system from scratch, here is an example you can follow:

Employee Point System Example




> 15 minutes late



15 minutes-2 hours



< 2 hours or no show


Unauthorized absence

When Do Attendance Points Reset?

Ah yes, the big question most team members want answered is how long do they have to wait until their attendance points go back to zero. And it’s a great question! If your company is following a corporate mandate, then your attendance point system policy or employee handbook should clearly state this information.

If your company is smaller and you get to call the shots, a good rule of thumb here is to let the points reset after two months of perfect attendance. You want to see that a behavior change has happened here. Be sure to include the reset plan for attendance points in your employee attendance improvement plan as well.

How to Create an Attendance Point System

The size of your workforce, your absenteeism rates, and the number of people who manage absences will influence your approach to your point system. Here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Decide how you will track points, from a simple DIY spreadsheet template to integrating point tracking into your absence management software or time clock system.

  2. Implement an employee call-out system with standardized questions to make sure absences are properly coded (so the correct points can be applied or not applied).

  3. Think about the disciplinary actions and rewards that will motivate your workforce.

  4. Add the points system to your attendance policy as a section or an amendment. (Don’t have an employee attendance policy? Then now is the time to create one!)

  5. Have new hires read and sign the point system policy during employee onboarding.

  6. Make the employee point system easily available to all employees for future reference in your company’s ESS portal.

  7. Be sure that your entire workforce has visibility to their points, so they are always aware of where they stand.

  8. Celebrate achievement as they earn rewards with team-wide recognition.

Remember that the success of your points system depends on team members understanding it and feeling motivated by it. Transparency and communication are essential to helping this system thrive.

Easily Track Attendance With Our Free Template

A free, straightforward Employee Attendance Tracker Template for all industries. Download and add your employee's information, and you're good to go!

What Are the Benefits of an Attendance Point System?

An employee point system can boost attendance numbers and help keep your hourly team on track when well thought out and done correctly. Let’s dig into the pros of attendance point systems a little more.

Point systems are easy to understand.

Attendance point systems are pretty easy to figure out—making them ideal for managing a large team. Because they’re simple, there’s not a huge burden on the employer or the employee either. Knowing how many points it takes before disciplinary action hits means no team member should be in the dark. Having a work point system at your company gives your team concrete rules to work within.

It improves engagement.

Think about it this way: When your employees know they’re getting too close for comfort to that disciplinary line, they’ll probably be more likely to stay engaged and make an effort to come into work (fingers crossed. But if there isn’t a clear absence or late arrival policy at a company, it’s pretty easy for employees to get a little too relaxed with their clock-in times.

A work point system offers fair and equal treatment.

Need to make sure there’s no special treatment or favoritism happening at your company? Good news! A solid attendance point system coupled with a clear attendance policy will have your back. When everything is laid out clearly, management is held accountable to follow through with the same kind of treatment for everyone.

An attendance point system lets employees know where they stand.

A point system can help employees visualize just how close they are to getting a formal warning (or worse) and help encourage them to make a change. If this kind of information is kept hidden from your team, it’s a lot harder for them to know how to change. With an attendance point system policy like this, everything is straightforward for your team with no gray area on what's expected.

It makes rewarding good attendance easy.

Sure, avoiding being on the receiving end of a write up is motivating, but rewards can also influence positive attendance behaviors from your team too. Instead of having your team associate attendance point systems with negatives only—use it for good! You can reward employees who have few or no points and celebrate when they hit a milestone like perfect attendance for the month. Six months with no points? They can earn a gift card or a free lunch. A whole calendar year with no points? They earn an extra paid day off. The options are endless! This is a great way to encourage your team to come to work and make good attendance a priority.

Disciplinary point systems reduce absences.

This one might be a no-brainer, but it’s still true. When team members know that every unexcused absence and late arrival adds up against them, they’ll probably make more of an effort to show up. Attendance points have a way of taking the idea of showing up to work and making it something folks can gamify. Who isn't motivated by tangible things like rewards and toeing the line to not get written up? It works.

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What Are the Cons of an Attendance Point System?

You know the old saying, there are two sides to every story? Well, that’s true with attendance point systems too. Some companies might find that having an employee point system makes life easier; other companies might discover that it just doesn’t work for them.

Absences can be nuanced.

Sometimes things aren’t as black and white as just dishing out an attendance point for an absence. You might find that there’s more to the story. Did a transit strike cause the delay? Was there some kind of circumstance out of the team member's control that caused the absence? This brings up bigger questions you’ll have to ask yourself like: Should we make exceptions? And if so, where do we draw the line?

Exceptions can lead to confusion.

While you can definitely make exceptions (and might need to from time to time), there’s no denying that exceptions can make things confusing. Exceptions need to be taken into consideration when outlining your points system, but exceptions can make things even more complicated.

Can an Attendance Point System Fix Absenteeism?

Yes! All in all, an employee point system is an effective way to reduce absenteeism, improve attendance rates, and encourage on-time clock-ins.

One study saw a 47% decrease in absenteeism when a grocery store started using an employee points reward system.1 Which isn’t too surprising, right? People like a challenge and having something to work toward. So, remember to use your points system to positively influence your hourly team members—not just as a scare tactic to get them to show up for work.

If you really want to help make unexcused absences a thing of the past for your team, make it easier on them to let you know they’ll be out. The best way to do that? Get an attendance management system that lets your team text their status for the day. That’s right, we said text. It really is that simple to transform communication within your team.

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