3 proven ways to deal with employees’ lateness

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Employees’ lateness, when not measured and managed properly, can cause businesses thousands of pounds each year in lost productivity and profits.

In order to understand how lateness can affect organisation’s bottom line, let’s look at the example below.

Company X has 150 employees.

10% of their workforce (15 employees) is persistently late to work by 10 min.

Their average hourly pay is £7.00 ph.

If we presume that there are 232 working days per year, multiply it by the number of late employees and their lateness time expressed in pounds the company could be loosing £4043.76 per year!

Add to that the lost productivity, extra overtime costs occurred when covering workload and the order value of the contracts lost due to delays in delivery and you get a clear picture that lateness management procedures should be implemented by companies struggling in the era of cost reduction initiatives.

Forum of Private Business proposes the below steps to avoid the issue:

1. Setting rules

Your staff needs to know what you expect from them, therefore a clear lateness policy should be introduced and well communicated to your workforce.

The policy should cover:

  • The required standards of timekeeping, i.e. working hours, shift patterns, any flexi-time or
    flexible working arrangements
  • Any consequences of persistent lateness
  • What disciplinary action will be taken under the disciplinary procedure
  • How your company will monitor time keeping, for example with a signing in sheet or clocking in machine
  • If and how your staff will have to make up any time they have missed
  • Who they should report lateness to if they know are going to be late and by when.

Many of our clients have stressed that the simple fact of monitoring their employees’ lateness and absence patterns has increased the overall presence rate.

2. Creating a formal procedure

The Forum suggests that persistent lateness can often be resolved informally and the employee may be given an opportunity to improve.

This often proves to be a more effective way of resolving such an issue at an early stage. It can highlight any problems that could easily be resolved and negate the need for an investigation and disciplinary meeting.

If after the informal action lateness continues to occur, it may create grounds for a formal disciplinary procedure.

Even where there has been a full disciplinary process and the employee’s time keeping has not improved, the employer will usually have to give the employee notice (or pay in lieu) if they wish to dismiss them.

Employers can only dismiss employees without notice in cases of gross misconduct. Lateness itself is perceived as not serious enough to be gross misconduct, although lying about the reasons could be.

3. Being fair and flexible

Employers are being advised to be realistic and understanding about occasional unavoidable problems with getting to work. They should always listen to employee’s reason for lateness. It could actually indicate problems concerning management, working relationships and hours.

Where employees are finding it difficult to manage home and work responsibilities, introduction of flexible working arrangements should be considered.

During various events, such as upcoming London Olympics travelling to work may be disrupted, therefore the companies should plan ahead as much as possible and be open to changing shift patterns or
allowing temporary home-working, if appropriate.

Learn more on how to avoid workforce shortfalls during Olympics by reading about previous blog article here.

What else could be done to reduce lateness’ costs quickly and automatically?

As proven by many of our clients, including Hawker Aerospecific Space (for a case study go here), time and attendance system helps in reducing employee lateness by simple fact of monitoring and analysing their working time and absence patterns.

A good system will have a built in tool helping you to set up a rule that if a person arrives late to work by 7 minutes, the system may round that figure up to, for example 15 minutes, and equivalent to that time pay will be reduced from your employee’s final salary.

An automatic, quick and effective way to battle lateness. For good!

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By rcl
18th Sep 2011 21:28

A couple of years ago, I studied the highest performers at a national High St retailer to help develop a new graduate program.

The average performing store managers would deal with lateness with a friendly arm round the shoulder, an "anything I can do to help?" approach.

Sometimes, the lateness was caused by a genuine problem. But mostly, it was caused by staff being late because they could.

The problem was that once the average performers had started down the 'coaching' route, there was almost no way back, and lateness, sickness and absenteeism in general increased.

The high performers approach the situation very differently. As soon as an employee was late, they received a verbal warning. A proper, formal, recorded verbal warning. No friendly chats. No excuses.

After all, if it was really a one off then no problem. And if it was a toe in the water to test the manager's grip on store operations, that toe got singed.

The high performers had the highest performance by KPI standards and by staff satisfaction surveys. Everyone knew where they stood, and everyone knew they could rely on their colleagues. Staff didn't routinely have to cover each other's jobs. Everyone got to go home on time.

It might sound harsh, but the results showed that the business and the staff benefitted most when the managers played it by the book - and those results were driven by the customers.


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