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How to address employee tardiness at work: 8 tips for HR

6 min read
employee tardiness

Employee tardiness can have a significant impact on the workplace. It can disrupt work schedules, create bottlenecks, and impact productivity. Tardiness at work can also take a toll on workplace morale. This is because when employees are repeatedly late, it can send a message of indifference and a lack of commitment to colleagues. This, in turn, can lead to resentment and a decline in overall employee engagement and collaboration. That’s why, as a human resources professional, it is crucial to tackle this issue head-on and foster a culture of punctuality.

In this article, we will explore eight practical tips to help you address employee lateness. From establishing clear expectations to implementing policies and supporting initiatives, these strategies will help you understand how to deal with tardiness at work and build an engaged and efficient workforce.

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The effects of excessive employee tardiness

According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 25% of workers are late for work at least once a month. Not only that but more than 2 in 5 employers have let someone go for being late.

So, why is employee tardiness such a problem? How can excessive tardiness at work impact your business?

For one thing, tardiness at work, defined as the habit of consistently arriving late to the workplace, could be costing your business as much as $500 to $600 per employee annually. A big reason for this is that when employees are consistently late, it disrupts the productivity of the entire team. For example, other employees may have to wait for the tardy individual to start meetings or complete tasks. This can result in a great deal of wasted time and reduced efficiency.

Secondly, employee lateness can strain working relationships and hinder effective teamwork. This can make it difficult to achieve common goals and complete projects on time. It can also lead to resentment and create a negative workplace environment. Plus, punctual employees may feel burdened by having to pick up the slack or cover for their tardy colleagues, which can lead to a decrease in overall morale and job satisfaction.

Tardiness in the workplace can also directly impact the reputation of your business, especially if employees regularly interact with clients. For instance, late arrivals can lead to delays in responding to customer inquiries, missed deadlines, or even loss of potential business opportunities.

Finally, regular absences and the tardiness of employees can make it difficult for you to track employee hours and effectively calculate payroll at the end of each pay period. This is especially true if you don’t use a reliable employee clock-in system. More on this below.

8 tips to address tardiness at work

So, we’ve seen why employee tardiness at work is such a problem, but what’s the solution? How can you create a culture of punctuality and encourage employees to start work on time?

Here are 8 practical tips to help you understand how to deal with lateness at work and effectively address this issue within your organization.

Create a late employees policy

The most important thing you need to do to prevent employee tardiness is to create a comprehensive late employees policy. This document should set clear expectations for punctuality. It should also outline the consequences for repeated tardiness, and establish a framework for addressing the issue consistently.

By communicating this policy to employees and enforcing it consistently, you send a strong message about the importance of punctuality and accountability. Ultimately, a late employees policy creates a structure for addressing tardiness and fosters a culture of punctuality, improving overall productivity and workplace dynamics.

Establish a corporate culture that encourages punctuality

Establishing a corporate culture that encourages punctuality can also help you effectively tackle employee tardiness. The best way to do this is by promoting accountability, providing consistent reminders, and recognizing and rewarding punctual behavior.

When punctuality is valued and promoted throughout the organization in this way, it sets a clear expectation for all employees. It also creates an environment where being late is seen as unacceptable. This culture reinforces the importance of punctuality, motivates employees to be on time, and holds them accountable for their attendance.

Train your managers on the importance of employee tardiness write-up

Training managers on the importance of employee tardiness can significantly aid in tackling this issue. By ensuring they understand the impact of tardiness on productivity and morale, they can effectively address and manage employee lateness.

Not only that, but equipping managers with the knowledge and skills to have open and constructive conversations about punctuality enables them to set clear expectations, enforce policies, and provide guidance to employees. This includes the importance of consistent employee tardiness write-up, which serves as a valuable tool for tracking and addressing the issue effectively.

Stick to your employee tardiness policy consistently

Consistently sticking to your late employees policy is crucial. By enforcing the policy consistently, you send a clear message that your company will not tolerate employee tardiness from anyone. Employees will understand that there are consequences for being late, and this will create a sense of accountability. Consistency also demonstrates the organization’s commitment to punctuality and sets a standard for behavior. As a result, employees will be far more likely to make an effort to be punctual.

Review your employee schedules

If you have an ongoing issue with employee tardiness then it might be worth reviewing your employee schedules to see if that can help you address the issue. For example, you might discover that there are potential conflicts or issues that are contributing to lateness. This might include unrealistic workloads or overlapping commitments.

Regularly reviewing your schedules allows you to make adjustments where needed. That way, you can ensure that employees have a manageable workload and adequate time to commute or address personal obligations. For example, implementing flexible schedules or a 9/80 work schedule might help employees who are consistently late due to family commitments or daycare conflicts.

Implement a reward system for employees with perfect attendance and punctuality

Implementing a reward system for employees with perfect attendance and punctuality can be an effective strategy to tackle employee tardiness. By recognizing and rewarding those who consistently demonstrate excellent attendance and punctuality, organizations create incentives for other employees to do the same. This system reinforces the value and importance of punctuality, motivating employees to prioritize time-keeping. It also fosters healthy competition and a positive working environment.

Include punctuality in your performance reviews

Including punctuality in employee performance reviews can help you emphasize its significance and communicate your expectations to employees. Employees understand that tardiness is not acceptable, and punctuality is an essential aspect of their job performance. Including punctuality in performance reviews also provides an opportunity for constructive feedback, coaching, and attendance & punctuality goal setting.

Use an accurate and reliable time-tracking solution

Finally, one of the best strategies to combat employee tardiness is using an accurate and reliable time-tracking solution such as a time clock or timesheet software. Solutions like these provide you with valuable tools for employee time tracking so that you can maintain a precise record of employee clock-in and clock-out times.

By having access to real-time attendance data in this way, you can quickly identify and address instances of employee tardiness. What’s more, accurate time-tracking makes it much easier to calculate accurate working hours taking into account any late arrivals. That way, you can quickly generate error-free payslips at the end of each pay period.


Stop employee tardiness in its tracks

Factorial’s time tracking features can help you accurately record employee clock-in and clock-out times so that you can identify and address problems with employee lateness before they get out of hand.

Let’s explore some of these features.

  • Accurate time tracking. Factorial’s solution includes a user-friendly electronic time clock that employees can use to accurately log their working hours. They can do this by accessing a time card app straight from their mobile devices, which makes it especially useful when it comes to remote employee time tracking. Plus, the app includes facial clocking technology so that you can create an accurate, secure, and efficient system for attendance management.
  • Automated notifications. Factorial can be configured to send automated notifications to both employees and managers when an employee is late or misses a clock-in. These notifications serve as a reminder and can prompt employees to arrive on time.
  • Reporting and analytics. Factorial generates comprehensive reports and analytics on employee attendance and punctuality. You can use this data to address underlying issues, implement targeted interventions, and provide coaching and support to employees who are struggling with punctuality.
  • Shift scheduling and planning. Factorial’s shift scheduling feature allows employers to plan and allocate work hours effectively. By establishing clear schedules in advance, employers can minimize confusion and give employees a clear understanding of their expected working hours.
  • Performance management. Factorial’s platform includes a range of performance management tools. Your managers can use them to address tardiness as part of a broader performance improvement strategy. By setting clear expectations, providing regular feedback, and offering support, managers can effectively communicate the importance of punctuality and motivate employees to arrive on time.

By leveraging all these tools, you can reduce employee tardiness, promote a culture of punctuality, improve overall productivity, and create a more efficient and accountable working environment.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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