Employees who regularly fail to show up for work on time put a burden on their colleagues and exhibit general unprofessional behavior. Whether you're a manager trying to rein in habitual lateness, a colleague stuck covering for a co-worker, or are trying to improve your own punctuality, there are ways to change the situation and improve the work environment.
General Impact of Tardiness
When employees don't show up for their assigned shifts on time, there's an immediate negative impact. Coworkers might have to cover for the tardy employee until he shows up, putting them behind on their own work. Important meetings and projects might have to be delayed. In some cases, the business might not open up on time and customers might be left waiting. Dealing with this unprofessional behavior can make other employees resentful, which can lead to decreased morale and reduced job satisfaction as well as poor interpersonal relationships with other workers.
Working With Late Colleagues
If you're continually covering for a co-worker who never shows up to work on time, you're probably doing some mental math. A colleague who shows up half an hour late every day and leaves you with her work is essentially getting an extra few hours off work each week while you're performing additional work. If the late colleague is supposed to relieve you, her tardiness likely backs up your schedule, making you get home late, miss an after-work exercise class or make you late picking up pets or kids from daycare. Chances are you'll grow resentful of your colleague. You might also be upset with your manager for allowing the poor behavior to continue unabated.
Managing Late Workers
If you're the manager of a habitually tardy employee, you need to take action before that person's behavior has a negative impact on the workplace. Other staffers might see you as showing favoritism to the tardy worker and not doing anything to address the problem. You could potentially run off good employees who are tired of being saddled with responsibilities that aren't their own. Additionally, an employee who gets into the habit of always running late, and isn't reprimanded for the action, is likely to continue the behavior and even show up later as time goes on. Follow your company’s guidelines for dealing with problem employees. Counsel her about her actions, give a formal warning or reprimand, and follow up with a suspension or even termination if the behavior doesn't change.
When You're the Problem
If you have poor time management skills and never seem to get where you need to be on time, take proactive steps to change your habits so they don't have a negative impact on others. Even if you think a few minutes here and there doesn't matter, it adds up. Moreover, it can lead to feelings of resentment among your colleagues. Determine what makes you run late and take steps to change it. For example, if you always encounter traffic on the way to work, leave earlier to account for the delay. If you have a conflicting schedule, such as a part-time job that overlaps, talk with your manager about making a change in your schedule so you don't have to show up late.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.