Absence Bonus

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For an added incentive at the company, and in an effort to improve general attendance in the call centre, we are looking to introduce a bonus whereby if over the period of a year, any staff member with a year clear of absence gets an additional days holiday to use the following year.

The sticking point is what to do for those who have time off for personal reasons - severe family emergencies and the like.

It would seem very unfair to disqualify someone for a reason like this but then again if people realised that this didn't disqualify them, they could start pretending sickness' were personal family emergencies etc.

Any ideas?



A fantastic Endeavour, I have always struggled with the concept of having an incentive to encourage staff to come into the office to perform a job they are paid to do, perhaps I’m just old school!

However in my experience even when trying to give incentives to employees to turn up for work, the same old names come up time and time again.

In the past I have found the best method is to firstly manage the performance of the individuals concerned which I’m sure you already have in place.

Secondly create a performance matrix that runs at team level which includes attendance.

The team owns the targets and generally the team then manages those individuals that may stop them from winning the incentive.

The other thing that you may want to check out is discriminating against an employee whose sickness is linked to a much wider issues with their health generally.

I’m of the believe that you either do it or you don’t i.e. if your off your off and impacted otherwise you may find yourselves writing a very long list of exceptions. This also ensures a consistent approach so when you go to give out the incentive you don't find yourselves with appeals for being unfair.

The other thing that comes to mind as a last resort

“If you can’t change the people, change the people”

It’s a very interesting topic, and one that also opens up discussion around ideal culture, environment and performance management all of which drive some of the behaviors around attendance.

Operations Manager

West Bromwich Building Society

I'm with Neil about having to incentivise staff to come in and do their job!! Must come with age...

For emergency days, we insist on either unpaid leave, use part of holiday allowance or make the time up if we are feeling really nice! Don't let them take it as sick if they are not.

We used to give bottles of champagne to staff who did not have a day off in a year. The idea of a day off is good but thinking of our little call handling angels, why give them a day off when they can call in sick for two? It depends on your companys sickness pay policy, if it too generous I have seen examples where staff "plan" their days off knowing that they can have 4 or 5 in a year without anybody being really bothered as this is the company average.

Also, with high attrition in a Call Centre will staff still be there the next year to get the benefit?

Best of luck!!!

Sr Manager Operations

Idexcel Ltd

I can think of only one answer to your above question , Include attendance in your incentive tracker ( probably give a 10% or 15 % weight-age ) . Definitely you will see improvement. Practically implemented in my center and giving me good results.



This is a question of pragmatism. I don't like the principle of rewarding what should be basic behaviour but unfortunately in my experience it does work. We ran a scheme with additional days off as the reward which reinforced the principle well - we saved lots of working days overall.

One other thing we like is to have a competition over a long period of time with a prize pot which everyone has a share in - maybe £5 each. Over 200 agents it adds up to £1000 which is shared evenly between everyone left in at the end of the competition period. Everyone who is left in the pot really fights to get in when they have a slight cold!

GPR Consulting

Call me old school, but I don't subscribe to incentivising people to avoid calling in sick. I agree with a number of you in that it should be a value and ethics thing, and should not be rewarded. In the real world, especially for some of us who are independent consultants, if you dont work, you dont get paid. And that really should be ingrained into the behaviour of the agent. Agents should realise (especially the younger ones, which usually are the worst offenders) that throwing sickies causes big disruption and potential loss of revenue for the business.

In the states, you're given a number of "sick days" per annum. If you go over these days in sick, then its docked off of your pay. I once suggested to a client that they should establish the number of sick days available to the agent (say 3-5 per year), which also can be used as a personal day, bereavement day, etc. And if they're not used at the end of the year, they can be rolled over as holiday time for the next calendar year... that way, there is no "hard cash" being handed over, and it sets some good practice into place for the younger employee.

Thoughts, Gentlemen?


Director of Consulting

h2i Consulting Limited

Like Gene I must be 'old school', rewarding people for turning up to work feels uncomfortable. One American company I worked for introduced a policy similar to that described by Gene. Each employee was allowed a certain number of one day only absences for sickness, any additional one off days for sickness were deducted from the employees pay. Gene's point about communicating the impact of sickness on the business is a good one, I would go a little further and say show this in monetary terms e.g. the Company loses £X amount in sick days per year. If we could reduce the amount to £Y we could give you a bonus of Z%. Developing on this theme you could just have an initiative that is a great motivator and also reduces attrition.

I thought I was 'old school' but turns out I was new school all along!

Personally I think that giving people any 'allowance' of sick days is stimulating the wrong behaviours. Our experience is that most people have zero or one day off sick and take pride in the fact. Setting a norm of 3-5 a year will, I think, encourage people to take their 3-5. I also think that suggesting you get a 'team' bonus if sickness is reduced will not stimulate the right behaviours in individuals - its too easy to think you can't affect it and leave it to the others. All I know is that, although I don't like it, incentivising attendance does work.

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