We’ve all had one of those days. The alarm doesn’t go off. We get stuck in traffic. Or, the babysitter doesn’t show. And, uh-oh, now we’re late to work.
But, what do you do about people who stroll in late as part of their routine?
Decide If It’s Worth Addressing
As a manager, sometimes you need to follow the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. If an employee habitually shows up 30 minutes late, that’s a problem. However, if your superstar arrives at 9:01 a.m. daily and usually stays late to finish extra work, you might be better off letting this slide.
Let Them Know You Noticed
Subtle suggestion can go a long way. This may be as simple as walking over and saying “Good morning” to a tardy employee. Or, if you need to be more direct try, “I see you’re running late, is everything OK?” Many workers will take the hint. This allows both of you to avoid a more uncomfortable conversation.
Keep Track Before Jumping to Conclusions
You don’t want to play favorites or unnecessarily target someone. One employee may sneak in late almost every day, while another creates a major scene with an occasional tardy arrival. There’s no need to keep extensive attendance records but do take notes. This also comes in handy when someone claims, “I’m not late that often.”
Schedule a Private Meeting
If despite your best efforts your employee isn’t getting the message, you’ll have to meet one on one. Start by asking, “Is anything wrong?” Many times, workers run late because of personal issues. For example, they might be putting young children on the bus or caring for a sick relative before work. A few minor schedule changes may be all you need to resolve the situation.
Explain Why Being on Time Is Important
Some people just aren’t time conscious. If your employee doesn’t have a good reason for their behavior, you may need to clarify the problem. When they are late, their co-workers fall behind, and clients are kept waiting. Ultimately, this negatively affects morale and overall productivity.
Outline the Consequences and Follow Through
Unfortunately, depending on the individual, you may have to resort to disciplinary measures. These may include docked pay, decreased bonuses, additional working hours to make up for lost time, and in the worst case, termination. After the meeting, ask them to sign off on your agreement. And, of course, if things don’t get better, put your plan into action.
Finally, remember to give positive and not only negative reinforcement. If your employee has made noticeable improvements, thank them for their efforts. This will boost their spirits after what probably has been an embarrassing career moment.
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