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Business Etiquette: Managing Tardy Employees

Monday, December 13, 2010

 

'Tis that time of the year in Rhode Island when mornings and mid-afternoons grow darker.  That time of year when staffers start staggering into work just a little bit later each morning.  At first, everyone thinks, "He must have gotten lucky," and then "Wow, you are the party man, how do you do it?"

Nip it in the bud, manage tardy staffers as soon as you hear buzz that, "Jake wore the same clothes two days in a row."  Do not accept "better late than never" from staff.  Lateness in the working world is becoming increasing more common.  Look at it this way, if an employee is ten minutes late every day, he is essentially getting a free week of vacation time every year.

Do: Send out an e-mail to let employees know the tardiness code of conduct:

Do: State the boundaries again making the consequences of tardiness crystal clear by posting the hours in the common room and bathrooms.

Do:  Chat up the tardy staffer to find out his reason for being late.  When there is a litany of excuses, such as car trouble, overslept, lost car keys, clothes were at the dry cleaners, traffic, broken alarm clock, power outage, fell asleep on (someone's) couch, stopped for speeding, or ran out of gas, remind him that he will eventually run out of excuses.

Do: Try to work with the employee who has a legitimate excuse, who, perhaps, has unreliable childcare, or a child with asthma who was up all night, or who simply has to rely on unreliable public transportation.  Ask her to make up the minutes at the end of the day.

Do: Reward those employees each month who are consistently on time by awarding a small gift certificate for promptness from the local coffee shop, or office coffee cart.

Do: Stick to your boundaries and enforce consequences for tardiness.  Explain that in being late the employee is essentially stealing company time. And, we all know that time is money.

Don't make the punishment harsher than the crime.  In other words, have employees make up the exact time, don't punish them further by making them serve more time.  After all, 'tis the season to be jolly.

Didi Lorillard is a born and bred Newporter. While living in New York City for many years, she published two books, Guide New York, New York: A Counter Chic to Manhattan and Buy the Best. After raising two daughters, she moved back to Newport with her husband, the historian and author, Robert Cowley. For more inspiration and guidance on etiquette and modern manners, visit her Web site, here.

 

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