Building a More Punctual Workforce in 4 Steps: Ending Chronic Lateness

By Katherine Muniz
January 17, 2017

We all have a friend who we know will always be at least fifteen minutes late to every occasion. However, while this may be acceptable in social circles, in the workplace, frequent lateness is usually a red flag.

In fact, a study by CareerBuilder found that 40 percent of employers have actually fired an employee for being late.   Despite being practiced in everyday life, some employees are still habitually late. Whether it’s down to bad timing or an unconscious tick, frequent lateness can be distracting, not only to you but to the employee themselves, who may be frustrated with their unintentional habits.

Here are some techniques you can employ to inspire long-term punctuality:

Have conversations on an individual and group basis

Have a conversation with your employees about the importance of arriving to work on time. Without identifying anyone employee in specific, focus on discussing what’s expected of everyone, and ask employees to strive for punctuality going forward (asking them to verbally pledge may help). If chronic lateness continues, consider having an informal one-on-one chat discussing the issue. There could be underlying factors at play, which you might be able to help them workaround.

Schedule meetings at the beginning of the workday

One way to get employees to come on time is to schedule events that require their attendance towards the beginning of the day. Nobody will want to come in late and risk having interrupted the daily meeting or worst, missing it altogether. Not only is there a social aspect that makes doing so more inappropriate, but if it’s a mandatory meeting, it will actually impact their job performance. If they continue to miss work, they’ll be shirking their duties.

Introduce added motivators

There are a number of ways you can inspire employees to be consistently punctual. You can use verbal praise as positive reinforcement, leave notes of recognition by their desk, or even introduce perks for punctuality. For instance, you can set small weekly goals and offer teams a reward if everyone is punctual. You can also hold a monthly lottery only for employees who have made it work on time through the month, and offer incentives like an extra paid hour off or free lunch.

Be aware of employees’ unspoken feelings

If employees continue to arrive late, it may not be something they can help; in fact, it could even be causing them personal distress. Consider coming up with an alternate arrangement that may work better for them. If they’re willing to make up the time they miss by staying later at work, that’s one option that could work. Be flexible and encourage communication. If work is still getting done in a timely manner, you might agree with the 16 percent of employers who say they don’t need employees to be punctual if they can still get their work done.

Remember, though chronic lateness can be frustrating to deal with, there are always ways to address the issue and encourage habits that are conducive to being punctual and productive.

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