6 Ways to Deal with a Chronic Latecomer


Tired of that one late comer who always has excuse after excuse? Good managers know employees are a company’s most valued resources. You need to trust them to keep your business up and running even when you’re not present, but that only happens if they’re dependable.


Of course, employees must take up their responsibilities. However, if you want to be known as running a tight ship, it includes making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to. That means checking up on employees is part of your to do list.


Why should this feature at the top of the priority list?


Disadvantages of Habitual Latecomers

It’s clear: If you’ve noticed that one employee who is always late, chances are everyone else has too, including his or her colleagues. The danger of not addressing this immediately includes problems among the staff:

  • Frustration
  • Friction
  • Lower morale


In extreme cases the other disgruntled employees might also start coming late if they notice there are no consequences.


So, how do you prevent this?


6 Ways to Deal with Latecomers

Identify Behavioral Patterns

Granted, arriving late for work can happen to anyone. Reasons may include:

  • Traffic jams
  • Occasional alarm malfunctions
  • Children may fall ill
  • Bad weather
  • Accidents


When life happens, a late arrival is acceptable. It only becomes a problem when these things keep on affecting just one individual continuously. This means a negative pattern starts to develop and it’s interpreted as clear lack of respect for you and the company’s rules & regulations.


For this you need detailed documentation about employee clock ins and time reports. This helps with the first step of identifying this pattern. Then you move on to the next step which is addressing the situation.

Respect Privacy

Let’s be clear: Addressing the issue doesn’t mean a public outburst in the presence of other employees. Confrontation in public is less likely to yield desired results. Rather, you can expect the following:

  • The employee will feel humiliated
  • A defensive reaction
  • Complaints about a manager’s tactics

Decide on the right approach and attitude to ensure a better outcome.

And this is how you do it.

Schedule a Meeting

Schedule a one on one meeting with the employee in question. However, as mentioned, for such a meeting to yield positive outcomes there’s certain documentation that needs to be readily available.


This means your company should have a dynamic system in place for maintaining such employee records. Serfy has a software system which allows all employee attendance information to be captured accurately including:

  • Days missed
  • Hours worked


You can bring the following with you to the meeting:

  • Company policy
  • A copy of the employee’s rules and regulations which clearly state the time each work day starts
  • A copy where the employee signed to show agreement to the rules
  • The daily attendance register used for clocking in and out


Having the above evidence on hand will allow you to build your case effectively. In this meeting be sure to be as professional as possible and avoid any of the following:

  • Foul language
  • Threats


The goal of the meeting is to establish the reasons behind the problem and find a way forward.


Voice Your Concerns

A clear disregard for rules may lead to disciplinary action, but what happens if there are valid reasons, such as a medical condition? You need to come up with a contingency plan which may include:

  • Flexible working hours: He or she can start a bit later than others, but work later too.
  • Adjust schedules: Depending on the nature of the employee’s job description they can work from home if possible and only come in when necessary.

In this way you show concern for employees, while benefiting both parties.


If the reasons are unwarranted you must clearly outline the consequences of such actions. Start by telling the employee of the disadvantages mentioned earlier to explain the effect they have on other members of the team.


Also let them know the negative impact it has on company operations including:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced revenue
  • In the event that the employee was late for a client meeting also explain how it negatively impacts on the company’s reputation & image


Giving the employee an objective view may motivate more positive actions than before. But what if the trend continuous?


Outline Consequences

For every action there’s a consequence. Depending on your company policy this may include:

  • Making up for time lost by working through lunch or staying after hours
  • Working over the weekend
  • Decrease any bonus or incentives
  • Reduce salary based on hours missed


If the behavior persists you might need to take stern measures including:

  • Written warnings
  • A disciplinary hearing
  • Dismissal


The individual must be informed of these possible consequences to prevent future complaints about unfair dismissal. Remember: Get everything in writing.


Positive Reinforcement

Also remember: Good behavior needs as much attention as bad behaviour.


When good behavior is rewarded and acknowledged it easily leads to repetition of that particular action. You may ask: Why reward someone for something they must be doing in the first place?


This is where smart management plays a role: A verbal acknowledgement of praise will do wonders for your employee’s morale resulting in consistent positive behavior. So it’s a win-win for both parties involved.


Useful Information

In business being proactive is the smart way of managing. How does this apply to latecomers? Organizing occasional workshops is an effective way of addressing such situations before they escalate. In a non threatening environment you simply hold a meeting for all the employees and do the following:

  • Read out the company’s policy on attendance
  • Remind employees of the consequences of coming to work late
  • Highlight the impact of being late
  • Go through the company procedures including reporting structures to be followed when they know they’ll be late
  • Include a question and answer segment where employees can seek clarity & get understanding


It’s a little effort that can produce huge results.


Final Words

Now you know: You don’t have to allow employees’ tardiness to negatively impact the success of your business. First rule: Be proactive and address the problem before it spirals out of control.


And always check yourself: In some instances certain behaviors are influenced by the organizational culture. Are your supervisors and top management coming to work on time? What if the lower level staff members are simply imitating their bosses? It would be pointless to address the situation only at lower level.


Ensure you foster a culture of punctuality, responsibility and accountability from top to bottom. Not only will you have a motivated, punctual team, but it becomes easier to reprimand the few deviants. Prioritize this today and you’ll thank us tomorrow.

About the Author:


Povilas V. Dudonis is a serial entrepreneur and likes to dig deep into methods and processes of business operations to find ways to reach maximum performance