How to Deal with Frequent Latecomers at Work

how to deal with frequent latecomers at work

Organisations today offer flexible work hours and working-from-home options and are increasingly focusing on results and not on time spent in the office. With this kind of flexibility, how do you even know if someone is a habitual frequent latecomers or an absentee without a prior leave application? Does that impact anything or are we just fretting about a non-issue?

​In an ideal world, you shouldn’t be worried about employees’ office timings as long as they deliver work. However, in the real world, there are always some employees who take advantage of flexibility. A few bad apples appear to deliver work by giving the impression of working flexible hours. They are never to be seen when you need to meet them, generally tardy for meetings, and always have an explanation if you somehow get to speak to them about punctuality issues.

How do Frequent Latecomers Impact their Organisation

​Employees who are consistently late for work can leave a significant negative impact on the workplace. Listed below are some impacts that have been observed by many managers and companies:

Reduced Productivity

Frequent Latecomers can disrupt the work of their colleagues, who depend on them for inputs or deliverables. The colleagues may also have to spend time bringing the latecomers up to speed on discussions that happened in their absence. This can reduce overall productivity and also morale.

Decreased Team Cohesion

Consistently being late can create a perception among colleagues that the employee is not reliable or committed to their work. This can lead to decreased trust and cooperation among team members.

Increased Stress

When employees are consistently late, it can put additional pressure on their colleagues, who may have to pick up the slack or cover for them. This can increase stress levels for everyone involved.

Additional Workload

Employees who are always late can also cause additional work for their supervisor, who may have to spend extra time addressing the issue and documenting the lateness.

Negative Impact on Company’s Reputation

If employees are late for customer-facing roles, it can harm the company’s reputation and can lead to loss of business

Additional Financial Cost

Consistently being late can lead to loss of revenue, overtime costs for other employees who cover for the absentees, or other financial penalties due to missed deadlines.

​It’s important to address frequent lateness promptly and effectively to minimise these negative impacts and maintain a healthy and productive workplace.

How to Deal with Tardy Employees?

​There are several strategies you can use to deal with frequent latecomers to the workplace:

Clearly Communicate Expectations

Make sure your employees are aware of your expectations for punctuality and the consequences of being late.

Track Attendance

Keep a record of when employees arrive and leave, and use this information to address patterns of lateness. This is best done using an online attendance monitoring system rather than keeping a physical journal.

Address Lateness Individually

If an employee is consistently late, meet with them privately to discuss the issue and try to identify the root cause. There are many genuine reasons for delays or absenteeism too where you may have to extend the flexibility to accommodate employee needs. This approach greatly improves employee morale and builds loyalty. If the reasons are not false excuses, you will need to deal with the employee as laid out in the company policy.

Implement a Tardy Policy

That brings us to the fact that you need a good working hours policy in place to deal with consistent and behaviour-driven tardiness. Establish a policy for dealing with lateness, such as withholding pay for excessive tardiness. The policy should apply uniformly to all employees.

Lead by Example

A policy is only effective if the leadership is committed to it. Make sure your leaders are setting a good example by being punctual themselves. On an odd occasion when managers are late, ensure they communicate the same to their team at the earliest.

Be Flexible

Just to reiterate the point that an office culture that is seen as flexible and accommodative to employees’ needs stands out as a better place to work. Employees appreciate flexibility especially if they are late because of a valid reason like attending to a medical appointment.

You can also read: 6 Tips for Managing Employees in Different Timezones

​It’s important to remember that addressing lateness should be done in a fair and consistent manner, and with a focus on finding a solution rather than assigning blame. The goal should be to ensure employee behaviour changes for the better. No one should feel that they are indiscriminately victimised for coming late to work a few times. This can only be done with proper proof of data gathered from the attendance system, clearly shown and explained to the employee in question.


​There may be many reasons for employees turning up late for work or meetings. Before labelling someone as a tardy employee, you must have supporting data. You can identify frequent latecomers with the help of an automatic attendance management system. However, data in itself should not be the reason to discipline someone on the grounds of the policy. An open dialogue should take place with employees in order to assess any difficulties that they are currently experiencing with regard to work or personal matters.

It is important to be flexible and go with the times. At the same time, it is also imperative that flexibility has a positive impact only and that no one takes advantage and leaves a negative impact on your business.​

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