As the Dolly Parton song says, you may “stumble to the kitchen” to pour a “cup of ambition,” but that doesn’t mean you make it to work on time. Tardiness can be a cause of resentment among your early-bird coworkers and may result in productivity losses for your organization, especially if it’s widespread. If your salary is $30,000 a year, it costs your company $2,346 if you are 15 minutes late every day.
Although most of us use such tools as alarm clocks, PDAs, wristwatches and cell phones to keep track of time, family demands and other outside influences can result in chronic tardiness. A single parent who has to get herself and two children dressed, fed and out the door to school and work is juggling a lot of balls first thing in the morning. If anything goes awry -- a lost sock, a plugged toilet or a balky toddler -- the morning schedule can quickly nosedive.
Deadlines and Overbooking
Some people are late for everything and thrive on beating deadlines, hooked on the adrenaline rush of sprinting into the office one minute before eight. Others try to cram so much into their days that they're always overbooked, and spend the day in a constant state of tardiness. These are the folks who think they can stop for coffee, pick up the dry cleaning, take back some library books and still make their morning commute in 15 minutes when they live 10 miles from the job.
Tardiness Throughout the Day
Tardiness isn’t just an issue for the morning clock-in routine, as some workers are late getting to meetings, coming back from lunch or getting their work done. They may be over-scheduled, deeply involved a lunchroom conversation or are chronic procrastinators. Arriving late for a meeting is not only disruptive to the rest of the group, but the late-comer must be brought up to speed on the discussion, which wastes more time for all concerned.
In today’s diverse workplace environment, culture is one factor you may not consider when someone is late. There are cultures in which it is expected that no one will be on time, other cultures in which the usual arrival is 15 minutes after the start time and others in which time has little or no meaning. Tardiness may also be the result of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a brain disorder that causes people to be easily distracted and disorganized. Depression is another medical problem that may result in tardiness. Another factor is simply being disorganized. Setting out your clothing for the next day and packing your lunch the night before helps save time in the morning and organizes your priorities.
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