Chronic Lateness: 6 Tips for Dealing with Employees Who Are Always Late

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Chronic Lateness

Posted: 9 July 2018

Everyone has a morning now and then when things just fall apart before you’ve even had your coffee. Your alarm didn’t go off, or you misplaced your keys, or you walk outside to a flat tire. Most employers are understanding of occasional lateness due to flukes that are outside of our control.

The other side of the coin are the employees who seem to have the affliction of chronic lateness. You know the ones- strolling in ten minutes late, latte in hand. Perhaps they always sneak to their desk after everyone else has settled in, or perhaps they don’t seem to notice at all.

Though most managers understand that life happens sometimes, the truth is that tardiness can harm the bottom line. If you have a perpetually late employee, or are trying to ward off potential attendance issues in the future, read on!

1. Manage Employee Time

The first step to making sure everyone is held accountable is to track paid hours. Not only is this helpful for payroll, but it also ensures you are following state and federal laws about mandatory break and rest periods.

In addition, a time clock app like Time Clock Hub will help you keep track of anyone punching at incorrect times. Think of it as an early warning system- you’ll have punch information at your fingertips to help keep an eye on any potential attendance problems before they get out of hand.

2. Have a Clear Attendance Policy

Setting an expectation of attendance ensures that employees know what the rules are. Having policies for time off, absences, lateness, and sick leave will lay down a set of ground rules that your employees can refer to.

This policy should also document the consequences for violating said expectations. Employees who know that disciplinary action will be taken for excessive lateness are far less likely to be lax about their arrival time. A policy such as this should also include instructions on who to contact should someone be running late or reporting an absence, so these events can be properly documented.

3. Be Flexible Regarding Staff Needs

Of course, it is important to be well-staffed at all times, but consider having some flexibility in regards to your employee’s needs. If possible, let employees swap shifts, use personal days, telecommute, or make up hours earlier or later. These considerations can help employees better manage their work-life balance.

In situations such as doctor’s appointments or an illness in the family, work with your employees to keep their priorities tended to. This goes a long way to building timeliness and loyalty. You might consider incorporating flexible days or hours into your workflow to give employees that time for outside obligations.

4. Reward and Recognize Excellence

While your employees are always compensated for their work as is, recognizing your employees outside of their base wages can do a lot to raise morale and job satisfaction.

Working in a raise based on a variety of factors, including excellent attendance, can improve the motivation of your work force. Periodic reviews of their performance in accordance with work standards is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your employee pool.

Attendance issues often focus on the punishment aspect, but it is important to reward the positive side as well. Treat your team to breakfast to thank them for their hard work. Acknowledge and reinforce positive behaviors.

Keeping morale high can encourage employees far more than fear of punishment. Maintaining a good balance of rule enforcement and positive reinforcement is crucial to successfully motivate your workforce.

5. Check In

Sometimes home issues can bleed into the productivity of your workers. If you notice a change of behavior or work ethic of someone in the office, give them a friendly aside to see if everything is okay before assuming the worst.

Maybe a single mom has lost her only caregiver. Maybe a co-worker is making them uncomfortable. Perhaps an employee is taking on additional duties for an aging parent.

Approaching an employee with compassion can help you understand what to do going forward.

If you identify a personal issue that is having an impact on work quality, endeavor to solve it with them. Consider providing a schedule change, some extra flexible time, or even days off during a difficult transition. The interim can be a little more challenging, but your employee will be better able to adjust to their situation and fulfill their work obligations.

6. Chronic Lateness Has Consequences

Unfortunately, there are times in which disciplinary action is warranted. Using your established workplace policy, follow through on any problematic tardiness.

Make sure to give a verbal warning to employees when warranted, and document it in their file. Follow up with written warnings and copy HR on all of your actions. If the employee fails to correct their behavior, be consistent with write-ups as well.

Make sure to use discipline as a coaching opportunity. The learning curve is steeper with some people, so always start at the softer end of the scale and harden your approach if other methods have failed.

Be Proactive

Luckily, being personable and present to your staff often goes a long way to warding off disciplinary action. Your proactive attitude toward chronic lateness will help your staff work better as a team.

Remember, your employees are people too. Most of them want to come to work and do well, so arm them with the tools for success and you’ll be more likely to reap the benefits.

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Chronic Lateness

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