What can you do when employees are constantly late to work?

Contributor: Human Resources IQ
Posted: 11/11/2015
Human Resources IQ
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The balance between work and life is a conversation that happens daily around the world. Many organizations require employees to take time off, and some that even provide vacations for tenured employees. This not only boosts the organizations culture, but also boosts engagement among employees. However, what happens when employees are late to work and blame it on "life." There could be numerous reasons why employees are late; childcare issues, a traffic accident, medical or health, worked late and overslept… the reasons could be endless. Some of the reasons that employees are late are issues that according to the legal department, you cannot ask.

What do you do when employees work on their own time-schedule and constantly arrive late to the office or on the job?

Step in and say something early. Employees that know they can get away with being late are more likely to take advantage of the situation. As a manager, you need to bring up the issue early on in the work relationship. By stating your disapproval of the tardiness the first time it happens, it lets the employee know that it’s unacceptable to arrive late in the organization. A problem normally occurs when the manager overlooks the first few times an employee arrives late and this leads the employee to believe that it is OK. The advantage taking begins and those bad habits can be hard to break. Make sure the rule is clear to every single team member from day one and stick to that rule.

Review the organizations current tardy policy and if there is not a current policy in place, work with the HR team or the manager to develop a fair policy. Keep in mind that whatever the decision is, it must be consistent across the entire organization. Stick to the organizations policy on arriving late to work and hold employees accountable. Some managers will choose to overlook an employee that is late because they stay late to work after official office hours. Many agree that this is a great compromise. If this is something that you and your organization finds sufficient, remember, to be consistent with your flexibility among all employees. Do not allow one person to stay late to "make up" the time and then discipline another.

Identify the trend and communicate with them. As a manager or leader, take the employee aside and talk with them. Ask them if you can help with anything or if there is a reason for the repetitive tardiness. Let the individual know that they are affecting the overall company productivity and that their team needs them. Reassure them that they are part of a team and the entire team depends on each member. They may not realize the impact they are having on other individuals and how their tardiness affects other individuals’ overall productivity. Discussing with the individuals the implications of their tardiness may be a revelation for the employee.

If they are constantly late for a very valid reason, try to work with them to figure out an action plan. Letting them know that you are there for support and that you want to help them succeed can make a huge motivational impact on their relationship with the organization. Realizing that their manager or leader is not there to punish, but to give them the support and guidance to help them overcome the problem, can give them the encouragement they need to find a solution.

Know your numbers and keep track of the days and reasons. If it is something that continues to be an issue even after communicating the problem with them one-on-one, when performance reviews come around you will have the all of the necessary information available for the discussion. If it is something that is truly affecting the overall success of the employee or the team, know your numbers. Have the data of the number of customers that did not receive help in a timely manner. The missed sales due to the individual employee being late or the phone calls that were on hold longer than average because the entire team was not there to do their part. Keeping track of this information and data can be helpful for managers to review when performance reviews take place. This may seem like a tedious task, but when you have that detailed data present during his/her performance review it will help determine if their tardiness is the reason they are not as successful.

To some, being late may seem like a minor issue to overlook. To others it is what determines a good business outcome versus a great business outcome. Always remember that employees do have life that they need to take care of. Sometimes being late for the day is the best they could do. Having the initial conversation can be challenging, but reassure the employees that you are there to help them succeed. When a manager becomes a true leader and takes the necessary time to understand and assist the team members that is when the organization can flourish.

Do you have any tips or tricks when dealing with employees that are habitually late?

Thank you, for your interest in What can you do when employees are constantly late to work?.
Human Resources IQ
Contributor: Human Resources IQ