Productivity | August 1, 2019

Employees Who Are Always Late: Why Not Being on Time Can Kill a Small Business

It's 09:15 AM, work starts at 09:00 AM, yet no one has shown up yet!

As the owner, you start to become frustrated at the behavior of your employees. Another 5 minutes pass and the team starts arriving one after the other. As always they apologize for being late, yet you know that the same behavior will repeat itself the following day. At a glance, this may not seem like a big issue but in a small business, every minute counts.

Why Small Businesses Are Affected the Most By Late Employees

Small businesses usually hire 1-10 employees and in most cases, every employee has a unique role within the business. For example, let's take a hypothetical individual called “Josh” and see how his tardiness would fair in a supermarket versus a small family-owned restaurant.

In a supermarket, “Josh” is one of 10 customer service assistants working from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM. In such a business, Josh is easily replaceable - meaning if he is 15-minutes late than one of the remaining 9 assistants would jump to substitute him.

As such, the supermarket won't experience any delay in service from the tardiness of one employee. This, of course, would change if all of the customer service assistants were to be late. Yet, that's a rare case that management would never allow.

Now, let's move Josh to the small family-owned restaurant. He is the only waiter in the restaurant, and his delay could lead the business to potential losses in revenue. Be aware that employee tardiness can become chronic if not addressed properly by management.

To help you tackle the issue, we will be looking into some of the major problems that come as a result of late employees, and then we will discuss ways to prevent them.

employees-who-are-always-unprofessional

Late Means Unprofessional

Employees who are always late leave a bad impression to both new and returning customers. This stays true for employees who are not only late to work, but also late to meetings. When you're a small business, you rely on your employees to help you grow as a professional business. But, if the door sign in your restaurant states that opening hours begin at 09:00 AM and the doors are not actually open until 09:15 AM then you’re leaving any eager customer feeling annoyed. The lack of professionalism displayed by your business will turn customers away for good. Next time, they will head to a restaurant that respects their work hours!

Furthermore, word of mouth may hit the streets claiming your business incapable of respecting its customers. The same applies to those businesses whose employees are late to meetings. Being late in a professional meeting with your client creates a terrible impression - one which can be portrayed as unprofessional or lackluster.

Small businesses are sensitive entities that can’t afford to lose clients because of those employees who are always late. After all, you don't want to be known as the business letting customers, and clients wait around.

employees-who-are-always-late-frustration

Late Means Frustration

“Josh is always late, and I am the one responsible for his duties every morning. This is so frustrating. '' Imagine your employees feeling frustrated because of a single individual.

When an employee shows up late, it can disrupt the schedule of the entire team. If repeated, the behavior will lead to chronic tension and stress. This is especially true for small businesses with little staff, all of which have important roles.

Small problems, such as tardy employees can cause significant damage to the company's culture. Initially being 10-15 minutes late may seem acceptable but it will inevitably lead to deficiencies that will negatively influence the operations within a small business.

employees-who-are-always-late-frustration

Late Means Disruption

If an employee is late on a regular basis, why should others be on time? In the absence of a disciplinary system, late employees will disrupt the workflow by setting a bad example for the rest of the team. Additionally, this problem can escalate towards other rules and regulations - making employees feel as if other business rules don't matter.

employees-who-are-always-late-control

Late Means Lack of Control

Assume that Josh is continuously late and time after time he falsified his timesheet or asked a college to clock in on his behalf.

This act is known as time theft and it is a common behavior among tardy employees. Time theft is a problem for small businesses because it tends to camouflage the actual progress of the company.

A recent study claims that the average employee steals approximately 4.5 hours per week from their employer, totaling nearly six full work weeks per year and costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars a year worldwide.

Let’s do some math to test the above finding.

employees-who-are-always-late-control

A small business that lacks control will always be subject to buddy punching, time theft, and other productivity issues. As a preventive measure, businesses can use electronic time trackers that are designed to hold employees accountable for their work hours.

Late means there's a need for time tracking

What exactly is time tracking software and how can they stop employees from being late? Let's take a look!

Over the years time tracking has changed drastically. What was once a pen and paper timesheet has now turned into a digital software that does much more than just track time. Modern time tracking software automatically track the time of individual employees because every user is registered independently. Based on the data gathered, the software creates a detailed timesheet report that allows business owners to identify late employees within the organization. Considering the nature of time tracking software, buddy punching and time theft are very unlikely.

But, what if employees decide to clock in from their homes?

real-time-location

To prevent digital time theft, location tracking features have been developed that highlight where the employees are at the time they clock in. For example, Atto – a time and location tracking app – has a feature called "Named Job Sites" where administrators are allowed to set several job sites, each with a specific radius. What this does is it restricts the users from clocking in outside of the set radius. Hence, employees have to be on the job site before they are allowed to clock in!

In many ways, time tracking apps promote accountability and transparency across the business. Moreover, they will help you identify people like Josh that cause nothing but problems to you, the team and business.


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Atto is the simplest timesheet app for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s intuitive interface and carefully designed features, including time tracking, location tracking, team insights and automated timesheets help employees and managers focus on real work.

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