How Much Does Employee Lateness Cost your Business?


It is easy to believe that employee lateness isn’t a big problem if you only have a few employees who regularly arrive late to work. However, consistent and recurring tardiness ends up costing your business money. Even employees who are 10 minutes late here and there pose significant financial losses. A single employee who is late on a regular basis can have a negative impact on the bottom line of business, as well as the general work environment.

Studies estimate that tardiness costs the U.S. economy nearly $3 billion a year. When you consider that up to 20% of US workers are regularly late to work, this staggering sum becomes easier to believe.

All of us are late every once in a while; it’s inevitable. Traffic, family emergencies, missed alarms, and other issues are bound to crop up from time to time to prevent employees from being punctual all of the time. Chronic lateness, however, is particularly difficult to overcome once it becomes embedded in an organization’s culture.

The following are just a few consequences of employee lateness to your business.


Financial loss

HR organizations estimate that 20% of your workforce arrives 10 minutes late at least twice a week, resulting in employee productivity losses of $500 – $600 per employee each year. Furthermore, over the course of just one year, an employee who is 10 minutes late every day will have taken a week’s paid vacation.

This is especially true for retail and hospitality businesses, as late employees directly cause unhappy customers and therefore loss of business. For workplaces such as care homes, nurseries, and schools, staff lateness could also jeopardize staff ratios leading to legal requirements being breached.


Productivity loss

The cost of lateness goes far beyond wages and particularly the loss to productivity is substantial. Not only does this tardiness affect the employee’s ability to get work done, but also affects the productivity of other team members. When more timely members of a team have already sat down and started working, late arrivals can create distractions and make it difficult for them to get back to full concentration.

In particular, this is true when other team members rely on the late employee’s contributions in order to get started or progress in their tasks, particularly in team meetings. This results in lost productivity for both the team and the individual. Loss of time may seem insignificant in the short run, as long as the work gets done – right? Even so, the missed time accumulates over time and becomes significant for productivity.


Employee morale

Often, co-workers are forced to pick up the slack of late employees, causing them to harbor resentment and could encourage them to turn up late as well. Not only this, but if the employee is getting away with being late regularly, co-workers could see this as their colleague working fewer hours, which can be demoralizing. Consequently, this resentment will create a negative atmosphere in the workplace, which will bring down morale and productivity, costing the company money.

Co-workers that pick up others’ slack become overworked, stressed, and unhappy, which in turn results in loss of productivity on their part as well. Happy employees work harder; that is a simple fact. Unhappy employees are more likely to leave a company. Therefore, it is crucial to clamp down on lateness when it starts, in order to avoid the effects spreading and affecting others’ working habits in the long term.


What can employers do?


Be proactive

It is important to treat lateness as consistently and fairly as any other type of workplace misdemeanor. If the signs of chronic lateness begin to emerge, these should be dealt with promptly, but sensitively. For example, privately expressing that you have noticed the behavior and trying to identify the causes with them will be more effective than taking immediate disciplinary action. This allows for positive open dialogue, which can be used to create an individual solution to improve their timeliness.


Understand the problem

Often there are underlying issues that lead to chronic lateness, such as dissatisfaction, demotivation, or personal/health problems. Taking note of these issues and providing assistance instead of punishment will not only increase the employee’s on-time attendance but will also boost their morale and productivity. Poor mental health, for example, could cause an employee to be chronically late. By offering mental health support, the root cause of their lateness can be addressed and they will be able to return to productivity more quickly.


Lead by example

This one is simple, as a business owner, manager, or team leader, you should not be late consistently. Allowing yourself to be late only gives the message that on-time attendance doesn’t matter to you. If you cannot manage yourself, how can you be expected to manage others?


Encouraging timeliness

Having a clear policy on employee lateness from the outset will help to let employees know that lateness is not acceptable. For example, if an employee is consistently late, let them know that they must make up this time. Rewarding any improvements in timeliness will encourage the positive behavior change to continue and let the employee know that you appreciate the efforts.

Time clocks are old-fashioned and feel like micromanagement to employees. Employees should not feel as if Big Brother is watching them every second of the day. At the same time, they should not feel like they can get away with turning up whenever they want.

This is where the Keri Systems Work Hour Calculator can help. Our tool can be integrated with your access control system to track and report employee work hours. The program generates and displays who has been at work that day and for how long, by using access granted messages from two or more readers.

The tool allows employers to create comprehensive reports on attendance, making it easy for you to identify any late employees and use the data to present solid evidence of lateness.
By integrating this feature into your security system, you will have peace of mind over employee attendance and avoid team management headaches.

Read more about the Keri Systems Work Hour Calculator here.

For more information about Keri Systems access control solutions, please contact us to speak with an expert.

Office worker coming late to meeting

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