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5 ways to deal with an employee who is constantly late

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Being late for work doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a bad employee. We’ve all been there done that for one reason or another, so whether it was your alarm not going off, a traffic delay or an emergency, sometimes being late for work is unavoidable, and employers usually let it slide unless of course your tardiness becomes a pattern.

For some workers being late to work and leaving early is their modus operandi. These employees involved in habitual lateness rarely recognise nor acknowledge the error of their ways and that’s why as a boss, being too lenient on timekeeping will affect your business’s overall worker productivity.

The starting point is for you to lead by example. If you’re arriving late, your staff will assume being late is okay. When your business is a startup or small there’s not a lot of scope for you to keep your own hours, however, if this is what you need without sending the wrong message to your staff, employ a manager and then it’s his or her mandate to set the standard on timeliness. A team leader or manager between you and your staff is a sure way of providing you with more flexibility and freedom.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with an employee who is constantly late.

Greet them every morning

Instead of going all hard on an employee, you can reduce or terminate their lateness using an effective yet very simple gesture. Try greeting your employees with a personalized handshake each or just a ‘hello’ every morning. The obvious response will be an apology for being late and offer a commitment to improving their timekeeping the next day.

One to one meeting

Habitual lateness needs a one to one meeting, and if the problem continues, you’ll need to follow your HR process for warnings. Sometimes there’s no way around it. Ideally, the face to face meeting will sort out the issue, or an agreement can be made where they make up the time during the day. Taking no action will impact on the team dynamics, and other workers may think it’s okay to be late or that they can ‘bend the rules’ on something else.

Set the rules

One of the best ways to ensure that employees comply with the set rules is to make sure they read and sign their name on a copy which can go in their personnel file. A handbook with a set of rules New employees will test the boundaries particularly if there are grey areas so make sure rules are just black and white with no wriggle room.

In this regard, you need to ensure that everything is highlighted such as how many hours an employee is supposed to work and what happens if they don’t. Once you have this handbook, it will be easier to discuss your employee’s lateness in detail using the handbook as reference. Remember to use accurate data from an employee time tracking system such as index timeclock when discussing employee lateness. With accurate data, you can show the employee how bad the situation is and why it’s important to improve it. Accuracy, i.e. getting the facts right before dealing with employee errors is fundamental, it shows you’re management skill and sets the right expectation, that once right means usually always right.

Like you would expect different employees to learn the job differently, the same applies to work ethic. Some will have it, others will need a little encouragement and there may also be those that need an extra push. What’s really important is the consistency of approach. Your workers talk and fairness matters i.e. they need to be treated equally, so it’s one rule for all!

More recent articles on managing and motivating employees can be found through searching our site.