I heard another manager suggest it this past week :
No, it's not the least you can do to show your appreciation for your team's dedication. In fact, rewarding perfect attendance is wrong. Let me tell you why.
First, I'll share just a few of the most obvious reasons (we've all experienced in the workplace) as to why it's not a smart management move to reward perfect attendance:
Employees with perfect attendance often:
Come to work when they're sick - OR - when they're contagious.
I don't think I'm alone on this one, but: I DON'T WANT TO GET SICK! Stay home when you're sick and get better there. Don't come to work and spread your germs here. If you're coming into work because you're out of sick leave or you don't want to stay home by yourself, I feel bad for you. However, you're an adult and you need to make the right choice and do what's right for your colleagues. Stay home.
Don't want to disappoint others.
Over the years, I've heard too many managers in client organizations say they come to work when they're sick for fear they'll be viewed negatively by their bosses if they don't come in. So the managers come to work, spread their germs, try to focus, and perform far from optimally. They're doing all of these things while their colleagues try to stay away from them so they don't get sick. (See point #1 above.)
Believe they're irreplaceable.
People achieving perfect attendance often believe no one else can do their jobs. Again, I will be the bearer of bad news: Everyone is replaceable. Yes, I've had to accept the fact that even I am! If no one else can do the job, that employee has too much control on your business, your department, or team. What happens if that employee leaves your organization?
Focus on succeeding at work at the expense of their families and personal lives.
Work can become an escape from personal pressures and difficulties. That's fine. However, when it becomes a hide-out instead of a place for thought and performance, it affects the individual's and the team's performance and again becomes a management issue. The workplace should not become someone's life to the exclusion of everything else.
Fail to use their available leave.
There have been numerous studies on this, but if we don't take time every now and then to get away and recharge, our ability to perform at our best drops. Take the leave you have coming to you. You don't need to go anyplace. Have a "staycation" or do something else relaxing at home or in the local area. Just get away from work and its pressures and recharge yourself.
Now let me share some insights I've provided my clients to help them gain a deeper appreciation as to why rewarding perfect attendance is really not a smart management move.
Pay them to come to work...twice.
If your team members need to be physically present to do their jobs, why would you pay them a bonus for doing what they're supposed to be doing anyway (i.e., Showing up for work to do their jobs)?
When employees take leave or stay away when they're sick, others have to pick up their workload. Invariably having another set of eyes on a process provides opportunities to identify inefficiencies that well-intentioned team members have just learned to deal with and work around.
Overload strong performers.
When employees are out, note how many people have to cover for just one key employee when s/he is out. If three people have to cover for one person, you're probably over-loading a key person. It's time to reallocate tasks, cross-train, develop others, and really show your hard-working team members you are aware and appreciate what they do.
If you want to show your team members you appreciate their work, I applaud you. However, I suggest you show them you appreciate their work by monitoring what they do all year long. Support them by telling them to go home when they're sick and get better. Support them by minimizing the inefficient office systems, equipment, etc they've had to work with and work around. Support them by acknowledging that they've been carrying more than their fair share of the work and you will work with them in bringing others up to speed.
If you want to show your employees you appreciate their dedication, do it. Just do it in a way that actually helps them, the other members of your team, and your organization.