Do you have an employee or two who is always late? How do you deal with late employees? Read on to learn the top seven steps to effectively deal with them.
We’ve all been there. Your alarm didn’t go off, your car wouldn’t start, or you misplaced your keys. Whatever the reason, being late for work happens to everyone, and it makes for a very stress-filled experience.
But with 19 percent of Americans arriving late at least once a week, it seems chronic lateness is a growing problem.
As a manager, you understand that most employees arrive late now and again. You’ve probably arrived late yourself. These chronic latecomers, however, make being on time for work seem like an impossible task, even though most of us manage it every day.
Here are seven steps to help you deal with late employees and make regular tardiness a thing of the past.
Step 1: Outline Your Expectations
To ensure that your employees know where you stand when it comes to lateness, it’s crucial to set clear expectations.
In many cases, employees who arrive late for work on a regular basis do so because they can. Maybe in their last role punctuality was not emphasized, or they aren’t used to working set hours.
Change the tone of your company environment by outlining clear expectations for punctuality. Don’t rely on employees seeking them out in the employee handbook. Make a point of reiterating rules in meetings, or in the company newsletter. Ensure that your rules on punctuality are a part of every new employee orientation.
This outline must also include a clear discipline progression if employees do not adhere to these rules on timekeeping. For example, first they get a verbal warning, then a written warning, then a write up at work by HR.
Step 2: Show You’re Watching
Some lateness is inevitable, so it’s important not to come across as heavy-handed when employees are late now and again.
That said, occasional lateness can become the norm if an employee gets the impression that you don’t pay attention to their arrival time.
Take a gentle approach to start with. Make a point of saying ‘good morning’ or walk past your employee’s desk when they stroll in late. This is a subtle way to show them you’ve noticed. Often, this will be enough to encourage them to apologize or offer some kind of explanation.
This kind of personal approach shows that you’re paying attention without your employees feeling as though you’re watching their every move.
Step 3: Gather Evidence
Some lateness is inevitable, so you should follow your instincts when it comes to how to manage your employees. But, showing that you notice employee punctuality, or lack thereof, is not always enough.
If lateness starts to become a habit or you spot patterns emerging, it’s important to find out if there is a reason behind an employee’s tardiness. You need to know if this is going to be a problem in the future.
Remember to be consistent. If you approach one employee about lateness, he or she may insist that their colleague is late more often than they are. Have documentation ready comparing all your employees as evidence to back up your concerns.
Step 4: Be Proactive
Be proactive and address the problem as soon as possible. Once you feel that your employee has arrived late too often for it to be excusable with a simple apology, approach them for a one-on-one meeting.
Avoid reacting in anger and don’t threaten or shout at the employee. Instead, take a calm approach as a way to stop this chronic lateness before it gets out of hand.
Your employee might be a great fit for the company, but if their lateness is an issue then it’s time to say something. Remember, it’s the behavior you have a problem with, not the person.
Step 5: Encourage Communication
When you speak to your employee about their lateness, it shouldn’t be a one-way conversation where you reel off the times they’ve been late and reprimand them.
Instead, it should be a chance to open up a dialogue between you and your employee about their lateness with the aim of reaching an understanding.
Start by explaining your concerns and cite specific examples from the evidence you’ve gathered. Express your disappointment in their behavior and detail how it has affected their colleagues and the business as a whole.
Then, ask your employee to explain what is preventing him or her from arriving on time. Allow your employee to take in what you’ve said and respond. Be ready to listen. Your employee is more likely to open up if your approach is fair.
Step 6: Find a Compromise
Taking the time to listen to your employee avoids the possibility of acting in haste. You may discover that their lateness is due to family problems or a medical issue. In these cases, finding a compromise is the best solution for all involved. This could be a later start time or a more flexible work schedule.
If your business can operate with more flexible working hours then this could be a good compromise for all employees.
You might try meeting your employees halfway. For example, while you may want a no-tolerance policy when it comes to arriving on time for meetings, you could consider flexible arrival times in the morning.
A great way to make sure everyone is on the same page, even with flexible working hours, is with a time tracking plan by Timeclock Hub. This gives all your employees the tools to be transparent about what they’re working on and when, keeping them accountable for their time on the clock.
Step 7: Discipline When Necessary
If you’ve tried all the above and your employee still isn’t towing the line then it’s time to act. No manager likes this part, but sometimes, discipline is the only way to get your point across.
Use your discipline progression as a guide. When you give your employee their first verbal warning, inform them that the next step will be a written warning.
If this employee is late again, all parties will know what action you will have to take. Hopefully, this should get your employee’s attention enough for him or her to be on time in future.
Your Step-By-Step Guide to Dealing with Late Employees
With an open and understanding management style, and a willingness to be flexible when it comes to what suits your employees best, late employees should hopefully be a thing of the past.
Remember, it’s important to reinforce change with praise. If a chronically late employee starts showing up on time, show them that you appreciate their efforts.