When a valued employee walks in five minutes late for their shift, blaming traffic congestion, it can seem the definition of a small problem. What’s a few minutes against years of good service? Employee lateness isn’t a problem – until it becomes repeated lateness. However, almost a fifth of American workers are late for work at least once a week, according to YouGov polling. Over the course of a year, a little lateness adds up. Employee tardiness at work cost US businesses more than $3 billion annually, according to SHRM, and that was back in 2005.
Chronic tardiness in the workplace causes other problems, too. If one associate is repeatedly late, and nothing is done about it, colleagues may question why they need to be on time. However, if you take immediate action, it can seem like an overreaction. This leaves managers in a bind – something must be done, but what? The first step is understanding the problem.
Understanding the Problem With Tardiness and Absences
There are lots of good reasons that an employee may be late for work. YouGov polling suggests that the vast majority of tardiness is blamed on either traffic, childcare or bad weather (all totally understandable reasons).
However, when employees repeatedly show up late, particularly after previously being punctual, it’s normal for a manager to be worried. It’s important to determine whether these incidents are genuine one-offs, whether they show a lack of care and responsibility, or whether they are indicative of a deeper problem. Lateness can be the first sign of decreased engagement, burnout or an indication that an employee is struggling to balance work and family commitments.
Managers must establish whether the correct response to increased tardiness is support, discipline, or a boost to employee engagement. However, first, a responsible employer must ask whether they are doing everything possible to enable punctuality among their staff.
How to Address Tardiness in the Workplace
- Clarify Expectations
- The first step is to ensure that employees know what is expected of them. That means putting in place a clear and effective employee attendance policy. This may specify a specific grace period, whereby a certain level of lateness is tolerated. Alternatively – and whether this is possible will depend on your industry and the needs of your workplace – any amount of lateness could be accepted on the condition that employees stay later to work their full hours. This can be facilitated by the implementation of time & attendance software.
- Get the Schedule Out Well in Advance
If you’re not a fan of scheduling, you’re not alone. Scheduling can be a time-consuming and complex task, made all the more stressful by the fact that it can greatly impact business efficiency, productivity, and overall business success.
The problem is, even when scheduling staff in medium-to-small businesses, there are a lot of moving parts. The larger your company, the greater the complexity. And yet, to this day many companies are still scheduling staff by spreadsheet or even using pen and paper. These methods, while they may work fine for a few staff, can be a big burden on a growing company. The alternative, utilizing staff scheduling software, isn’t just simpler, it’s faster. Paycor research shows that using staff scheduling software decrease payroll costs by 7.2%. But more than this – schedules can be published far in advance, giving employees time to rearrange their plans accordingly.
Earlier access to schedules offer staff more time to plan their lives around work commitments, more time to arrange childcare, and generally leave them feeling more in control of their lives. In short, they make tardiness less likely.
- Use a Scheduling App
The benefits of using staff scheduling software are not limited to speed and effectiveness. Paycor Scheduling offers a smartphone app by which employees can receive, view, and request changes to their schedules from wherever they are. Rather than having their schedules unread in the spam folder of their email inbox, schedules are accessible at any time, from anywhere.
This way, as soon as a schedule is published, or an edit is made, staff know about it, and they can start planning their lives around it. Giving staff the best possible schedules, as early as possible, sets them up for success and will decrease the legitimate causes of tardiness.
- Empower Staff with Scheduling Flexibility
Flexibility is a HR buzzword that is much praised and less so acted upon – and this is never truer than when it comes to staff scheduling. While offering staff more control over their schedules is an admirable goal, work – or rather, the work of creating the schedules – too often gets in the way.
With Paycor Scheduling, you can allow managers to concentrate on what they’d rather be doing: anything else. It is possible to utilize the open shifts function, whereby managers only allocate specific employees for shifts when they need a specific person for the job. The rest of the time, staff can be empowered to request shifts, with managers only required to accept. Effectively, staff are scheduling themselves, leaving them empowered with more control over their lives, saving time for managers, and raising business efficiency.
When it comes to rearranging a shift, information bottlenecks – whereby a manager, and only the manager, knows the needs and availability of all staff – prevent a swift resolution. However, with our app a shift swap can be requested, seen by all qualified team members and accepted in a matter of moments. Likewise, if an employee is concerned that they may not be able to make the start, part, or end of a shift, they can easily arrange for cover from a colleague.
- Use shift reminders
There’s another aspect of tardiness that we can all relate to: forgetfulness. And if you use staff scheduling software to create schedules far in advance – well, that just leaves more time for staff to forget when they’re working. That’s why Paycor Scheduling’s mobile app can also provide shift reminders. A Paycor study found that by implementing shift reminders, the cumulative minutes lost from employee tardiness dropped by more than 16%.
Employee tardiness isn’t good for business – that much is clear. But before you race ahead with disciplinary measures – or, better, checking with an employee to make sure they are OK – it’s essential to consider whether your staff scheduling process is making it harder for staff to manage their time, and therefore their timekeeping. Staff scheduling software doesn’t just make managers’ lives easier, it ensures that staff are informed, engaged and on time.