Is Workplace Tardiness Taking a Toll on Your Small Business?

May 20, 2016 Pete Jansons

When you work at a small business, there’s often an “all hands on deck” attitude toward work. Everyone relies on everyone else to contribute equally to the business. This includes showing up on time and getting your work done. But in an age where technology enables us to have more flexibility in our schedules and work remotely when needed, is being on time still as important today as it once was?

According to a 2016 CareerBuilder study, the answer remains “yes” for the majority of employers:

  • 52 percent of small business employers say they expect employees to be on time every day (and 38 percent of small business employers have fired someone for being late).
  • 32 percent of small business employers say they have no problem with the occasional late arrival, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern.
  • 15 percent of small business owners say they don’t need employees to be punctual if they can still get their work done.

For the most part, employees also seem to be recognizing the value of being on time. Only 15 percent of workers in small businesses come to work late once a week or more, and 10 percent arrive late once a month on average. Furthermore, 59 percent of small business workers who arrive late will stay later to make up for it.

How to Manage Workplace Tardiness
If tardiness has become a problem you’d like to stop at your workplace, try these steps:

Address the issue. If arriving late has been quietly tolerated, employees may not realize you consider it a problem. Discuss company policy at a staff meeting. Clearly lay out expectations and consequences in writing so that everyone is on the same page. Hold one-on-one meetings with individuals who fail to comply going forward.

Set a consistent tone. Be a role model by paying attention to your own punctuality, especially when it comes to starting meetings on time. Also, avoid the temptation to tolerate lateness from top-performing staff members. While you may believe they’ve “earned” this right, others can see your blind eye as favoritism and become resentful – leading to lowered morale and decreased productivity.

Ask. Finally, don’t assume a late worker (especially one with a good past track record) simply fails to get out of bed on time. Personal reasons such as illness or childcare issues may be the cause. A bit of flexibility or a temporary schedule adjustment may be in order. To squash talk of preferential treatment, let other staff members know you have an open door to discuss their own scheduling concerns when circumstances necessitate.


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