Small Business Help

5 Steps to Reduce Employee Tardiness

Myranda Mondry | July 27, 2017

By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media & 

Chronic tardiness can really hurt your business, especially if you have a small workforce where every employee is vital to successful operations. For example, if your doors opened 20 minutes ago but nobody is there to answer the phones, it doesn’t convey a very good impression to customers and prospects who call in, get voicemail, and then get frustrated. So if chronic lateness is cutting into your businesses’ productivity and tarnishing your image, try these five steps to help reduce tardiness.

1. Track employee time and attendance.

Maintain detailed records of tardiness and absenteeism, including the reasons for being late, whether the employee contacted you in advance, and the days and dates the incidents occur. The more detail you have about an employee’s behavior, the easier it will be to make corrections with employee attendance. As you begin to track time, you may start to notice flaws in your current time tracking methods. If many employees clocking in at the same time, does a logjam occur? In that case, employees at the back of the line end up clocking in “late” even though they are actually on time. Implementing a mobile time tracking system, like TSheets, that makes clocking in and out quick and easy for everyone can improve accuracy and eliminate logjams. And if your team needs to be clocked in and out at once, try a time clock app that will do it all in one click.

2. Talk to your employees.

Tracking time might also reveal patterns in employee behavior. For instance, is a certain employee late every Monday morning? Do all of your employees consistently clock in late after lunch? These patterns can alert you to individual or team behaviors that need to be corrected or workplace policies that need to be adjusted. You can easily get to the bottom of the issue by asking your employees why they are late, which could uncover problems you may not be aware of. For example, if employees are consistently late coming back from lunch, maybe you need to extend your 30-minute lunch hour to 45 minutes or provide a break room with a refrigerator so they can bring their lunches.

3. Review your attendance policies with the entire team.

Once you’ve made any necessary adjustments to your attendance policies, review them with your employees. It’s easy for work habits to become sloppy over time, and even if your policies haven’t changed, employees who have worked at your company for years may have forgotten them. Hold a refresher course reminding everyone about your policies, including what constitutes being tardy (one minute, 10 minutes, half an hour, etc.), who to contact if they’re going to be late, and how to contact them (phone, email, text).

4. Enforce your tardiness policy.

Tardiness is a problem that starts small and quickly snowballs. One employee shows up late, suffers no consequences, and decides that being on time isn’t that important. Other employees see this person “getting away with it” and start coming in late as well. Once the tardiness policy has been reviewed with everyone, emphasize that you will be enforcing consequences or implementing a disciplinary process for lateness.

5. Celebrate improvements.

Make being on time a challenge or game and you’ll help everyone be more enthusiastic about being on time. Hold contests and offer a prize to the department with the best on-time record at the end of the month or quarter. Post signs tracking how many days each department has gone without a tardy. Accountability and gentle peer pressure will encourage everyone to be on time. Also, be sure to recognize individual employees for reducing their tardiness. And give one-on-one praise so they aren't singled out in front of the group. Chronic employee tardiness can quickly get out of hand, causing lasting damage to your business. By following the steps above, you can nip tardiness in the bud and create a more productive and happier team.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+  and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
A little about Myranda Mondry

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