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How to Manage Chronically Late Employees

Feb 17 2020
News >>

The impact of dealing with tardiness can be measured by lost productivity and bad morale.  Adding to the total cost is the ripple effect of late-starting meetings and employees that tend to procrastinate and simply do not want to conform to rules or structure.

 A combination of prevention, penalties, rewards and coaching are often key to dealing with tardiness.  The following process can turn a chronically late workforce into a group of employees that arrive on time, while concurrently increase productivity and morale.


  1. Establish a corporate culture that encourages punctuality.  Establish a written punctuality policy with clearly defined penalties.  Communication the policy in new hire orientations, enlist sign-on from all managers and enforce it consistently.  Penalties may include pay docking, written warnings, suspension and termination. 
  2. Discourage late-starting meetings.  Send an e-mail reminder a half hour prior to every meeting asking employees to be on time.  Two minutes after the scheduled start time close the door.  Then tackle the most important topics first.  Open the door for latecomers, but do not backtrack to fill them in on missed discussions.
  3. Establish a system of rewards for employees with perfect attendance and punctuality.  Rewards can be used as incentives and also serve as a reminder that punctuality is an important parts of the company culture.  Punctuality incentives are often packaged with attendance records, and rewards can come in the form of anything from free employee parking to gift certificates.  Managers can use spot bonuses to reward employees who are on time.
  4. Deal with lateness on an individual basis.  Handling lateness on an individual basis usually requires some degree of coaching.  Although termination is always an option for employees with excessive tardiness, there are times when an otherwise wonderful employee simply needs a nudge in the right direction.  Arrange a meeting with the employee to outline company policies and inquire about extenuating circumstance or logistical problems.  Set clear, measurable goals for the future and clarify the consequences for being late.  Document your conversation in writing and keep written documentation of future incidents.  It is recommended that you follow up and meet with the employee to review their progress.  Scheduling a follow up meeting helps reinforce to the employee that you are serious about he progress you expect and that you will be monitoring the situation over time.


Remember that many chronically late people do not act intentionally, and are often perplexed at why they fail to mange their time effectively.  The process of change will be more effective and long lasting if the employee achieves a better understanding of his actions and is equipped with tools for success.  

Last changed: Feb 17 2020 at 4:02 PM


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