employee getting berated

Time Clock Frustration: How to Handle an Employee Who is Always Late

Do you have one or more employees that are almost always late?

Productivity isn’t necessarily dependent on when someone arrives to work, but someone who is constantly late doesn’t exactly inspire much hope.

It’s a common problem in many offices. If an employee isn’t respecting the job, how are you supposed to expect your other employees to respect the job?

It’s disruptive and unprofessional for employees to be consistently late, but as the boss, you need to try and keep the peace as best you can. It can be tricky to navigate employee attendance, especially when they continue giving you excuses.

Sometimes it gets so disruptive that you need to make a fundamental change in the way that your business operates. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to deal with employees who are always late and don’t seem to care. You don’t have to fire them, you just have to help them understand what their actions mean.

Let’s fix those bad habits in your office.

Why Punctuality Is Important

It’s common for employees to lose track of time. Being late every once in a while, even once a week, isn’t that serious a problem. It’s when employees are consistently late by ten or fifteen minutes every day that it throws off the balance of the workplace.

Not only does it shift productivity, but it also has a negative effect on working relationships in the office. Late employees often need someone to cover for them until they arrive and it can lead to personal conflicts if unresolved.

An employee that responsibly shows up on time every day is going to look at the unpunished person that’s late every day and think, “what’s the point of showing up on time if there are no repercussions to being late?”

How to Recognize a Problem

Not every late employee is going to have an attitude problem. It’s specifically the ones that don’t have an attitude problem that makes the issue hard to deal with.

If a friendly and apologetic worker shows up to work late every day with a perfectly good excuse about why they were late again, it’s hard for the employer to sort the fact from the fiction. Here’s how to begin to deal with a problem:

  • Document each time someone comes in late and write down the excuse to cross-check with other excuses they’ve used.
  • A clear pattern of delinquency should become evident. If the excuses don’t match up or if another employee comments on the late employee’s tardiness, then you can move forward.
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When you’ve got a clear picture of how often the person in question is late, set up a meeting to discuss the issue.

Serious Chat

When you sit down with the employee, you can present them with the evidence of their lateness that you’ve gathered. A few things may occur.

If they have no good reason for their pattern of excuses and lateness, then you may want to consider issuing a warning to them. Some people don’t even realize that their lateness is having an effect on morale or productivity. A verbal slap on the wrist should correct that type of behavior for the time being.

Some folks are aware of having poor time-management skills and use this as an excuse. In this case, you can provide them with some advice on how to manage their time more effectively.

Providing your employees with mentorship may or may not be your forte, but these employees generally show appreciation for your concern and strive to work harder if they know you’ve got their backs.

If the employee has a legitimate excuse as to why they’re consistently late, like traveling from far away or taking kids to daycare, then you can be lenient with them. A slight change in their scheduling to accommodate their schedule should help, just inform their coworkers of this change to avoid any conflict.

If They’re Still Late

If the problem persists, then you need to take your discipline in another direction. It’s hard being the “bad guy”, but your other employees that are always on time need to know that you can put your manager hat on and manage.

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When an employee continues to show up late even after a discussion about the problems that it’s causing, then you need to try a different method.

One of the things that you can do to rid yourself of this problem altogether is to start using an online time clock to keep track of when employees arrive in the morning and leave at night. Timeclock Hub offers a free online employee time clock with payroll reporting and in-depth scheduling.

An online punch clock can give you hard data on how often certain employees are late for work. With this data, you can implement a write-up system for all your employees, knowing that you’re only targeting the consistently late ones.

For instance, if an employee is late by more than 10 minutes three times in a month, they could get a write-up. Perhaps a certain number of write-ups could lead to someone’s termination.

With this system, you don’t have to continue disciplining employees. There’s a system in place and they must abide by it or face the consequences.

Small changes in processes will have little effect on the people that are always on time whilst letting the tardy employees know that they need to change, and soon.

Sometimes You Have to Be Mean

It’s unfortunate, but someone who doesn’t respect the rules at your workplace and shows no sign of positive change may need to be eradicated. It’ll benefit morale for your on-time and productive employees to see you take charge of the situation.

Having everyone organized with an online punch clock is a good idea even if you don’t have a problem with late employees in your office. It can be an unthreatening way to keep everyone in line. The last thing you should have to worry about in the office is your employees showing up on time!

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