‘Traffic jam, my child is sick, my motorbike broke down, the car could not start, there was an accident on the highway’, these are some of the most common reasons that HR hears on a constant basis from employees for being late for work. Most of the reasons are genuine, whereas some are not as they may be used frequently. It could simply mean that the employee lacks time management skills or does not respect the rules as set by the Company.
These are some simple steps that HR personnel can take to tackle these infamous issues:
1. Be Proactive
If you see this pattern over a few days, tackle it immediately, and do not let it prolong for weeks or even months, that would be construed as condoning tardiness. Schedule a one on one meeting with the employee and show them the lateness record and get them to tell you the reason for lateness.
2. Come Up With an Action Plan
If the tardiness is genuinely due to family issues such as a difficult or sick child that constantly needs last-minute attention, then come up with an Action Plan. You may schedule the employee to start at a later time, say 30 minutes later and end 30 minutes later too. In this way, the employee would not be deemed to be late anymore. Of course, you will need to change your company policy to accommodate this and there needs to be someone else in the department or division who are able to be there 30 minutes earlier so that you don’t have too many empty chairs in your department.
3. Keep It Private
Schedule these conversations and discussions in private. Have it in a closed meeting room to avoid other employees' eavesdropping and eventually humiliating this employee.
4. Tell Him or Her the Consequences
Clearly explain the consequences of frequent tardiness before taking action. This action should be stated clearly in the Company’s policies too, however its best to verbally say it to the concerned employee. Some of the consequences can be requesting the employee to stay after office hours to make up for the loss time, issuing a reminder or warning letter, freezing or reducing yearly increment and / or bonus.
These are some of the useful, tried and tested ways to tackle tardiness, however, there are many other ways to handle employees who choose to ‘beat the system’. Stay tuned for Part II on tardiness to get more tips.