Coming into work late

Coming into work late

Unfortunately, employee tardiness is a common issue that many business owners face.

In this article, we’ll take you through what effects both their lateness and repeated absences have on your business practically and financially and how to address the problem.


What does it do to productivity?

When someone is off, your company productivity is down by that person’s expected output for the time they are not at work.

If everybody comes into work on time, then they have the time to do everything the business needs them to do. If they are late, they may not have the chance to finish the required tasks.

Let’s say that Alex works a normal Monday – Friday, 9-5 job, but he turns up 5 minutes late each day. 5 minutes late may not sound like much, but at the end of the year, that amounts to roughly 20 hours of work that has been missed by him.


What does it do to morale?

If the owner of the business doesn’t do anything to stop their employee from coming in late, the rest of the staff will inevitably become annoyed by this.

Morale is affected especially if that employee creates a productivity bottleneck. If your other staff require your absent or late worker to do something for them in order for them to complete their tasks and that employee is not there, your workforce will become resentful that they are missing their targets through no fault of their own.


What does it do to team discipline?

Failure to address the issue of continual lateness/regular absences may even make your staff think that it is OK to turn up late for work. This can lead to a general breakdown of discipline within your wider workforce.

If an employee believes that they can get away with being late, then they may start to believe that they can pick up other bad habits as well. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that the same employee who is constantly late is the same employee who spends an extra 10 minutes on their lunch or who spends an excessive amount of time in the bathroom.

The best way to avoid these issues is to stop the problem at its root cause. One disciplinary can save you a great deal of trouble in the long run.


What does it do to company growth?

Frequently absent or late-arriving members of staff not only affect your company’s ability to grow, it can also make breaking even a lot harder to achieve.

By continuing to employ these people, you are spending money filling a position that could otherwise be given to a much harder-working employee who is happy for the opportunity.


What to do with a chronically late employee

There are several things that you can do to make an employee turn up on time.

The first thing that you should do is take them to one side and politely address the issue with them. You should do this once a pattern has emerged and excuses are starting to be repeated. If you do this too early, say after a single late incident, then you might come off as overbearing and insensitive.

If they continue to turn up late after your informal meeting, you should then make your disappointment verbal. Show them that their actions are negatively affecting their co-workers and appeal to their empathetic side.

You should then come up with an action plan. This should contain what you will do if their lateness continues and it should outline the sanctions that they will face. Examples of this could include:

  • asking them to make up for the lost time,
  • docking their pay, or
  • writing a formal disciplinary letter to them.

Smart Team have worked with dozens of companies over the years and we understand the frustration that people like this cause.

Deciding whether an employee is actually worth the trouble can be a difficult issue to deal with. It’s amazing how, no matter how much you enjoy running your business, someone who is always late or always off can really sour the wider experience.

If you would like to discuss a situation with us to see if it really is worth keeping someone on from a financial point of view, please give us a call on 01202 577 500 or you can email

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