Tardiness affects more than just an employee's paycheck. Late employees, especially those who come in late often, impact multiple areas of the business, including other employees and the company's bottom line. Employers must handle frequently late employees quickly and in accordance with a set lateness policy to prevent the situation from escalating. The use of a clear late policy in writing and available for all employees to view ensures everyone is treated the same.
An employee who isn't working when he's supposed to is an immediate loss of productivity. Routine interruption may throw other employees off, particularly those who rely on the late employee to do parts of their jobs. Frequently, late employees hinder productivity on a bigger level than an employer might initially realize. For example, an employee working on a project who is late 10 minutes each day for a week loses nearly an entire hour of work. If another employee needs the late person to do his project part, he may lose nearly as much work time despite being punctual.
Frequently late employees may lower everyone's morale. The late person isn't following the rules and may lead other employees to feel angry about the unfairness of the situation. The morale of immediate co-workers may plummet because the employee's lateness puts stress on them, especially if they have to cover for the late employee or fall behind in their own jobs.
Late employee disruptions affect time-sensitive areas of the job, such as customer service. If an employee is late and doesn't make a delivery to a customer on time, for example, the customer may end the relationship with the employer. A late employee who is supposed to open a location at a specific time may lose customers if she's not there when she's supposed to be. Multiple incidents of poor customer service will affect the employer's reputation and may discourage potential customers.
Allowing one or more employees to come in late frequently can undermine the employer's management team. Other employees may begin to feel as if the rules don't apply to the late employee and come in late themselves. When management consistently lets someone slide, other employees may lose respect for the people in charge.
Transforming yourself from chronically late to perfectly punctual is a big task. It is important to make deadlines non-negotiable, “like a promise to yourself.” Start with something easily attainable, like vowing not to hit snooze tomorrow — not even once. If you can’t commit to a small inconvenience like that,you are not ready to tackle your chronic lateness. Before jumping in, try an experiment: Get somewhere on time. Just once. Just to see how it feels. Note your reaction. Are you relieved or anxious? Proud or bored as hell? Then work your way up from there.
Step 1: Relearn to tell time.
Every day for two weeks, write down each task you have to do and how long you think it will take. Time yourself as you go through your list — showering and dressing, eating breakfast, driving to work, picking up the dry cleaning, doing the dishes — and write the actual time next to your estimate. Many people have certain time frames cemented in their brains that aren’t realistic. Just because once, five years ago, you made it to work in 12 minutes flat doesn’t mean it takes 12 minutes to get to work.
Step 2: Never plan to be on time.
Late people always aim to arrive to the minute, leaving no room for contingency. Say you need to get to work at 9 a.m. You assume it takes exactly 12 minutes to get to work, so you leave at 8:48. If you miss one traffic light or have to run back inside to grab an umbrella, it becomes impossible to make it in on time. Don’t chance it. You should plan to be everywhere 15 minutes early.
Step 3: Welcome the wait.
If the thought of getting anywhere ahead of time freaks you out, plan an activity to do in the interim. Bring a magazine, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or go over your schedule for the week. Make the activity specific and compelling, so you’ll be motivated get there early and do it.