What Can You Do when Employees are constantly late to work?

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KUNAL GUPTA

4Sight Associates

Founder Partner

What Can You Do when Employees are constantly late to work?

Tackling habitual late comers at the workplace is a delicate issue – more so in organisations where productivity is directly linked to effective human interfacing. Service oriented industries, Skill based output etc.  are traditionally more affected if employees come in late to work. While traditional ‘persuasive’ methods work in conventional setups like manufacturing units or individuals, repeat offenders indicate a more deep seated malady within the organisation’s culture or systems.

Interestingly, identifying the cause of the problem is often easier than acting on it  as the offending party –  often a cantankerous boss man, disgruntled employees or  some very sloppy HR / Management practise – mostly always refuse to accept their own role in the matter Setting up an  ‘action plan’ to remove such errant behaviour is  therefore more complex and intensive work has to be done at multiple levels simultaneously and followed up rigorously.

Firstly, it helps to draw up an inventory of the attendance records of the errant individual or group over a reasonably extended span (say past one year).  This data may be incorporated into individual portfolios; each portfolio  in turn should also individually track the employee in terms of Total Job Experience, Aptitude and skills, tenure and Seniority, Functional exposure etc.

With this background, personal interviews with the concerned individuals need to be conducted. Handled with care, this process fosters transparency, gives fresh insights into possible causes while helping track emotional and compensation issues (e.g.  present job- satisfaction levels, dissonance with corporate objectives and goals, and possible discord in the immediate physical environment.) Ideally the interview should be documented in a structured format in the interviewee’s presence. Besides making the employees feel ‘listened to’, it will provide an insight into their behaviour pattern and identify possible shortcoming in the work style or systems being followed. However, it could also bring in some harsh ‘home truths ‘about the organisation or present management style; the trick is neither to be too judgemental nor too sympathetic but to factually capture these observations and use them as clues to provide specific insight to the extent and causes for the problems. If entire functional groups or teams  appear affected, it is time to relook at the functional relationships and re-assess the efficacy of the group with possible escalation for remedial management action.

Meanwhile, try instituting special mention/awards for the most punctual individuals in every group – and also incorporate a special “EMP-LATE” award of the month  this “community censure” treatment works wonders with minimal ill feeling.

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