6 Steps For Managing an Employee Who’s Chronically Late or Leaves Early

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Most employees who are chronically late have a million excuses. One day it’s the traffic. The next it’s an unexpected morning “emergency” with a child … the car … the alarm … the weather ….

Time-shaving employees are bad for morale and cost you money.

When an employee repeatedly cuts out early or shows up late, colleagues notice. When there are no consequences, they notice that too.

Most employees’ salaries assume a 40-hour workweek. But when you’re only getting 38 hours, it adds up fast. Over the course of a month, that’s a full day’s work. In a year’s time, it adds up to more than two weeks of pay.

If you’re managing an employee who isn’t working the hours he or she’s paid to work and it’s clearly becoming a pattern, it’s time to address the behavior—sooner rather than later.

Here are some tips to confronting this tardy employee:

  1. First, send out a reminder to all employees of the work hours—including expected arrival and departure times
  2. Next, begin documenting the employee’s tardiness. This will give you (and your employee) a clearer picture of what’s actually happening.
  3. Confront the employee with your supporting data. This should always be handled in private. On a day when the employee arrives late, call him into your office. Tell the employee that you’ve noticed a consistent pattern and show him your data. Express disappointment, suggests entrepreneur.com. Briefly explain how the tardiness is affecting co-workers, clients or you. Remind him that this behavior costs the company.
  4. Listen to feedback. At this point, the employee will likely begin making excuses or rationalizing. “I’m not the only one who’s leaving early.” “It’s been a really bad month with my ….” “I’m getting my work done, so why does it matter?”
  5. Respond by acknowledging the excuse and outlining the consequences. “I’m aware ….” “I understand ….” Then mention that the missing time is affecting you and co-workers. If the excuse is reasonable and your organization allows for a more flexible schedule, discuss that—how could your employee make up the time? If not, reiterate that it must stop. Mention that it puts her job on the line.
  6. Notice and acknowledge changes in behavior. Keep an eye out for positive changes and let the employee know that you notice the effort.

Important: Confrontation should never be hostile. Assuming this is a good employee, remember that this conversation is designed to get him or her back on track. It should clearly outline your expectations and identify the gap you’re seeing. It should give the employee an opportunity to explain his or her actions. It should not be a personal attack. But it should also not sugarcoat your expectations and the consequences.

Related article: Stop Dreading Confrontation by First Defusing Emotions

When an employee’s behavior starts going off track, it’s time to intervene. Don’t avoid a confrontation. Prepare yourself with documentation and keep the discussion calm and straightforward.


Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.