What to Do with Late Employees

Sometimes lateness is unavoidable. There could be bad traffic. An alarm could have failed to go off. A pet could have been sick. A first offence can easily be overlooked. Even later offences could be forgiven if they’re not regularly occurring.

It’s when lateness is a pattern that it becomes a problem. Habitually late employees always have some kind of excuse. These excuses might sound reasonable on their own, but altogether, the repeated lateness can begin to affect coworkers and the company as a whole.

But what can managers to when employees are habitually late?

Give First Offenders the Benefit of the Doubt

Flat tires happen. Sometimes an excuse is a legitimate reason instead of just an excuse. Good employees can be given the benefit of the doubt, especially if it’s the first time. Even if it’s not the first offense, if an employee isn’t regularly late, the benefit of the doubt can go a long way. Good employees respect their own time and the company’s time and will only show up late if it’s unavoidable.

Watch for Habitual Lateness

It’s important not to let habitual lateness go on too long because it can affect productivity and morale. If an employee shows up late, watch to see if a pattern emerges. Is the employee always late the same amount of time? How often is that employee late?

Lateness can affect not only productivity but also morale. The late employee’s coworkers may see that employee getting away with showing up late. This could cause them to wonder why they bother showing up on time if no action is taken.

Have Clear Rules

Before taking any kind of action against lateness, it’s essential to ensure that your company has set rules regarding what time employees are expected in the office. Make sure the rules are clear and that all employees understand exactly what is expected of them. These rules also must be enforced equally for all employees. Holding some employees accountable for the rules and not others is a good way to be accused of favoritism.

Track Arrival Time

Some companies have time clocks that employees use to punch in and out. These don’t have to be physical clocks like they were in the past. Nowadays, companies can have digital time clocks on computers or even on a mobile app to make clocking in easier.

If your company has all employees arriving at the same time, another option is to schedule a morning check-in meeting. This meeting would only need to be a few minutes long–just long enough to see that everyone is there. Anyone who doesn’t show up to the meeting would then have to explain why they were absent from the meeting.

Calling in Lateness

Requiring employees to call in to the office if they’re going to be late can help deter lateness. It all employees have to call in and explain why they are late, that can help prevent them from being late in the first place. Avoidable tardinesses can be deterred if employees know ahead of time that they’ll be required to explain it.

Have Consequences for Lateness

If there are no consequences for lateness, the morale of the employees who are on time will suffer. They’ll see their late coworkers getting away with bad behavior. They may wonder why they bother to show up on time if lateness has no consequences.

The consequences for lateness can vary depending on the type of job and your location. However, these punishments can start with warnings and work up from there. You might require employees to make up the time they were late. Some locations may allow you to dock pay for the time missed. Eventually, if a chronically late employee does not improve despite multiple warnings and punishments, it may be time to fire them.

It’s important to spell out the consequences ahead of time so that all employees know the exact steps that will be taken if they are habitually late.

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