Frustrated by employee tardiness? It seems simple to set rules regarding punctuality, expect workers to follow them, and resort to discipline when they don't. But often, tardiness is a symptom of bigger problems that, left unaddressed, will keep you from ever getting people working on time. Here's what to do:
Fix external issues. If a particular employee has a problem with punctuality, focus your counseling first on how—or if—you can help. The worker may be tardy for specific, temporary or recurring reasons. For example, a spouse is traveling on business, and the demands of getting the family going in the morning lead the employee to arrive late for work. You could allow the employee to make arrangements with you in advance to come in late and stay late on such occasions.
Consider motivation and work skills. If a few workers don't seem to grasp the importance of showing up on time, then a harder line is in order. But still take the time to find out why. Perhaps these employees simply have poor work skills and habits, and need to be educated in why it's important to be punctual—using examples from their specific jobs. ("When you're late, the other reps have to handle more calls, and customers wait on hold longer, which is bad for business.") Or they may be suffering a shortfall in motivation, for whatever reason. You need to know what those reasons are and commit to helping fix them, if you can, in return for an agreement to be punctual.
Give the team a culture boost. If it seems like everyone on the team can't get to work on time, then you may have a team-wide morale problem on your hands—one that probably manifests itself in ways besides tardiness. But what if your people seem happy and productive, but are consistently late? Experts suggest such chronic tardiness can indicate a "childish" team culture, where employees don't feel accountable because they're not given enough responsibility. Look for ways to give your team members important tasks, autonomy to make decisions and insight into how their efforts contribute to the enterprise.