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8 Steps To Deal With an Employee Who is Always Late

8 Steps To Deal With an Employee Who is Always Late

As a manager, you’ll no doubt have to deal with late employees from time to time. Tardiness is a growing epidemic; a recent survey conducted by Australia On Time analyzed over 400,000 shifts and discovered that 40% of the employees monitored were late to their shifts. Employees that are constantly late are putting in fewer hours than you are paying them to work. While an odd 10 minutes here and there won’t put you out of business, an employee being up to 30 minutes late a week adds up to 26 missed hours a year, or 3.25 full days of work.

A reduced work rate isn’t the only issue with late employees either. Employees getting away with being consistently late to work sets a precedent. You’ll find that your team can start to take advantage of your seeming lack of care or discipline. Late staff can soon translate to lazy staff, or inappropriately dressed staff – either way, your staff may start to see what else they can get away with, so to speak.

It’s better to nip tardiness in the bud before it develops into a more pressing problem. However, no manager enjoys dishing out discipline, and many starting out in their management careers can struggle to find the right way to deal with these awkward situations. To help you out, we’ve put together a seven step procedure to deal with an employee who is always late.

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Procedure for dealing with a tardy employee:

  • Identify patterns
    Your first step in dealing with an employee who is always late is to monitor their attendance and work out if there are any patterns to their lateness. For instance, is your employee consistently late on a Friday morning? Are they late more than once a week? Is it several days in a row that they are late? Are they regularly taking long lunch breaks? Are their late days surrounded by absences? By taking a look at the patterns in behaviour, you may gain insight into the reasons behind the lateness.
  • Address the employee
    Now comes the tricky part – talking to the employee. There are two routes you can go down here; some managers prefer a softer approach and will get their employee in a one-on-one situation and casually ask how things are at home and throw in that they’ve noticed that the individual has frequently been late. Other managers will prefer a more professional, structured approach and will call the employee in for a formal meeting. The method you opt for comes down to your own preferred management style. A word of warning, however: not every employee will open up to you if you go for the casual approach, and worst of all, there may not be a valid reason for your employee’s tardiness!
  • Try to be accommodating
    Once you’ve discussed the issue with your team member and have gained more insight into their situation, you need to decide how you will address the problem. If the reason for their lateness is valid – say, they’re struggling with getting childcare or a family member is ill – you should try to be accommodating. Perhaps you can offer flexible working hours to relieve some of the pressure from your employee. Or, maybe an agreement can be reached where you employee can work from home for certain time periods. Workplace flexibility has been proven to be a huge motivating factor for employees, so you may find that being accommodating can even help boost your employee’s productivity, too!
  • Issue a warning
    Of course, not every employee is going to be responsive to you. Maybe the employee is dissatisfied with the job, or maybe they are simply a bad employee. It happens. In this case, if the employee continues to be late, you will need to issue a formal warning. Make it clear what the consequences will be if the employee continues to be late without a good reason.
  • Monitor the situation
    Once you’ve implemented a flexible working schedule or issued a warning, monitor the employee’s behaviour over a few weeks and identify whether positive changes have been made.
  • Offer praise for behaviour changes
    The best way to ensure that good behaviour continues is to acknowledge it. Staff respond well to praise and a bit of appreciation can go a long way! Staff that feel appreciated and valued are more likely to be dedicated and productive, so don’t be afraid to offer some positive reinforcement!
  • Follow through on your warning
    However, if the employee is continuing to flout your rules and arrive late for work, it is imperative that you follow through with your warning. If you don’t, you are in danger of becoming a push over and allowing your staff to do as they please. Not only will this mean that your bad employee will continue to arrive late, but the rest of your team will begin to notice and become frustrated – trust us, you don’t want this behaviour to spread!


Top tips for handling the situation professionally

Some final tips for handling this type of situation professionally:

  • Stay calm when addressing your employee – raising your voice or being too aggressive can cause your employee to feel threatened or feel like you aren’t approachable.
  • Respect your staff’s privacy and don’t discuss the issue with any other member of your team.
  • Bear in mind that in some cases, you will not be permitted to dock your late employee’s pay or fire them for their tardiness if their reasoning is protected by law. Once you have looked into the individual’s situation, you will need to look up what rights they have and your obligation as their employer.
  • Remember to document everything.

If you’re looking to embark on professional management training to become a better team leader, don’t hesitate to get in contact today. We’re a leading provider of Leadership and Management Diplomas in Australia.

Published by: LMIT