8 Best Practices for Managing the Late Employee

Managing the Late Employee.

Managers everywhere deal with employees that arrive to work late. Life happens. Unfortunately, a regularly late employee affects company productivity and morale and does not make for a reliable employee. How can managers successfully nip the habit in the bud or deal with a habitually late employee?

1. Address the issue.

Do not ignore the offense; address it immediately. Simply ask the employee why he or she is late. If you ignore it, you are sending the message that tardiness is overlooked or even acceptable. If the employee has personal reasons for being late or will not divulge the reasons, refer them to your HR department or employee assistance program (EAP). The EAP is designed to assist employees in coping with personal and professional issues in a confidential setting.

2. Determine if the tardiness is uncharacteristic behavior, or if it is becoming a habit.

Even the best employees are late sometimes. Everyone gets stuck in traffic, misses an alarm, or has a childcare issue from time to time. The important thing is that the employee is not habitually tardy and understands tardiness is unacceptable. If it has become a habit, then you both need to work on a solution.

3. Be flexible, within reason.

This is especially important if the employee is otherwise productive, effective, and valued. You do not need to lose a talented employee if there is a simple solution that could make everyone happy. Consider switching the employee’s hours to accommodate their schedule. Keep in mind, however, that if you are flexible with one employee, you need to be reasonably flexible with others.

4. Allow the employee to suggest a solution.

If the employee is able to offer a reasonable solution, they’ll most likely be more apt to stick with the solution. It works for them. It was their idea.

5. Make sure your attendance policy is in your employee handbook.

You will have no basis for disciplinary action if the employee did not receive notice of the attendance policy in the first place. It must be in writing and accessible. Your employee handbook is the perfect location for this policy.

6. Document each instance of tardiness and the reason the employee was late.

This is especially important when the employee is a low performer and disciplinary action may be necessary. Be specific with dates, times, and any conversations you had with the employee about tardiness.

7. Enforce the rules consistently.

You cannot ignore a high performer and punish others for the same offense. It will have a negative impact on your team morale. It also puts the company at risk for unfair employment practices.

8. Set a good example with your own punctuality.

Beyond your arrival at work, make punctuality a habit. Show up to meetings on time or even a few minutes early. This shows employees that you respect and value their time and expect the same courtesy.

If you could benefit from additional HR support or management coaching, contact Tandem HR today. Tandem HR is a Chicago PEO providing hundreds of businesses with custom, high-touch Human Resource solutions. They also help clients save time and money while growing their business by taking on the administrative tasks associated with human resources, benefits, payroll, tax administration, regulatory compliance and risk management.

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