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Tardiness in the Workplace Essay


Tardiness in the workplace is an ongoing issue. Managers should be proactive in combating this “drug” that has taken over our workplace environment. Many things such as dictating your employees’ reporting time in advance, outlining consequences of being late, and dealing with tardiness as it occurs can be done to attempt to alleviate this problem which costs companies billions of dollars in lost production opportunities.

In a survey that I conducted, my initial observations involving my coworkers were confirmed as out of 40 surveys that I sent out, almost 30 people responded exactly as I expected. The abuse of being tardy is evident all around us as suspense dates are sometimes not met, tasks are not accomplished, and work orders are not completed. It is only through ones intrinsic motivational determination that his problem can be eliminated. Many steps can be taken to attack and attempt to cure this “sickness”.

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The most consistent violation of loyalty and commitment to one’s employer is being late to work and often costs businesses billions of dollars in lost production opportunities. Tardiness costs U.S. businesses more than $3 billion each year in lost productivity (DeLonzor, 2011, p. 1). This irresponsible act occurs daily, especially amongst government employees here at Fort Bliss, Texas. Seeing this act on a daily basis has become a personal pet peeve and I hold my coworkers responsible constantly. An occasional instance poses no real issue, but repeated episodes of tardiness are cause for action (Mooney, 2012). There are several ways to attempt to combat this ongoing violation of punctuality: dictate employees’ reporting time in advance, outline consequences of being late, and deal with tardiness as it occurs.


How can a business, corporation, or company be successful if it is not operating at 100% constantly? In order to maximize productivity, employees need to be at work at their prescribed time. Being late to work is arguably the most obvious reason why tasks do not get accomplished, suspense dates are not met, and work does not get completed. Tardy employees affect more than just their own productivity; yes, they are not technically getting work done when they are late (Belcher, 2012). Customers are what make a business successful. If the employees of a business do not make themselves available consistently, then a business risks the probability of them looking elsewhere for timely services.


In an attempt to gain a clear understanding as to just why employees report to work late, I conducted a poll in my place of employment and gained some interesting insight on this issue. On the survey, I inserted a section where employees could pencil in their own reasons for being late. Surprisingly, no one took the freedom of penciling in any other reason(s) than the ones that I provided.

Out of 40 surveys that I sent out to my coworkers, only 30 responded. Out of the 30 respondents, 27 employees reported being late to work due to excessive traffic for a total of 90%; 28 out of 30 reported being late due to waking up late for a total of 93%; 29 out of 30 reported being late due to gate congestion when trying to access Fort Bliss for a total of 96%. My numbers are graphically expressed below:

Yet another important statistic is that out of 30 respondents, 28 reported being late to work an average of 1-3 times per week for an average of 94% while a modest two respondents reported being late an average of 4-5 times per week for an average of 6%. My numbers are graphically expressed below:


Probably the most important thing that we as business leaders need to do is ensure that we clearly inform employees about when and where they will be well in advance. Give each employee a copy of his or her work schedule at least one week in advance (Mooney, 2012). Make no mistake about it, if an employee knows where they need to be and at what time, then there should not be an excuse for not meeting the reporting requirements. Lame excuses such as excessive traffic, waking up late, or in the case of Fort Bliss – gate congestion, will not be tolerated. Management should be proactive and provide their employees a work schedule well in advance so employees can plan ahead and know where they will need to be.

Another important thing that a manager must do is outline and communicate the consequences of being late to all employees and ensure that they are understood. This should be done during the first few days that the employee starts to work preferably in writing. Personally, when my employees are late to work, I see it as a sign of disrespect that should not and cannot be tolerated. In a world where there are fewer hours in a day than it takes to get everything accomplished, you are making someone waste their precious time on you by choosing something over them; this is the ultimate sign of disrespect (“Being tardy – A sign of disrespect,” 2012). Often, managers have strict timelines to meet.

Meetings or other engagements with employees are often scheduled around the managers’ timeline. Therefore, employees are expected to be at the appropriate place at the appropriate time. Deviations from this schedule can often bring disciplinary actions on employees via a negative write up, for example. Worst case, excessive lateness can lead to being fired from ones job. Motivation comes from within; employees have to want to be on time and managers cannot force employees to do something that they don’t want to do. You can only provide an environment at work that is conducive to and supportive of employees choosing to become motivated about issues related to work (Heathfield, 2012). Lastly, tardiness needs to be dealt with aggressively as it occurs.

The only way to mend the effects of constant tardiness is to fix the problem at its root (“Being tardy – A sign of disrespect,” 2012). A manger should hold a counseling session to find out what the base of constant tardiness is. Things such as using a planner to write appointments or meetings down, setting your alarm to ring earlier than normal, or calling ahead to inform that you will be late are just a few things that managers can suggest to employees so that they can combat being late.

Managers hate making last minute adjustments to the work schedule so preparing them ahead of time for an employees’ lateness or absence is the smart thing to do. Although termination is always an option for employees with excessive tardiness, there are times when an otherwise wonderful employee simply needs a nudge in the right direction. Employees who have issues with tardiness often are the younger, less experienced generation; most of the time, all they need is to be steered in the right direction.


Though many people are late to work on a daily basis, the remedy to cure this constantly abused “drug” lies within. The small survey conducted clearly concludes that there is a remedy for being late to work although the real remedy lies within each individual person.

The most important thing is the willingness to being punctual and self-awareness of the reason for being late and then the cause needs to be rooted out (“Four Reasons Overpowering Individual Mind”, February 27, 2009). There is no room for tardiness in the workplace. If managers dictate employees’ reporting time in advance, outline consequences of being late, and deal with tardiness as it occurs then there will be no excuse for being tardy to work.

Being tardy – A sign of disrespect. (2012). Retrieved April 30, 2012, from http://www.professors house.com/Relationships/General/Articles/Being-Tardy—A-Sign-of-Disrespect/ Belcher, L. M. (2012). The Effect of Tardiness on Businesses. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effect-tardiness-businesses-19150.html DeLonzor, D. (2011). Running late: dealing with chronically late employees who cost the company in productivity and morale. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from http://find articles.com/p/articles/mi_m3495/is_11_50/ai_n15863701/ Four
Reasons Overpowering Individual Mind from Being Punctual. (February 27. 2009). Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://www.ayurvediccure.com/womenshealth/four-reasons-overpowering-individual-mind-from-being-punctual/ Heathfield, S. M. (2012). Human Resources: The bottom line for motivating employees. Retrieved April 30, 2012, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/motivationreward retention/a/motivating_employees.htm Mooney, L. (2012). How to deal with tardiness in the workplace. Retrieved April 26, 2012, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/deal-tardiness-work-place-21373.html

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