Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Late Workers? No Problem

Every employer has experienced the annoyance associated with workers casually strolling into the office 15, 30, or even 60 minutes after the work day has begun. Though you may have met and hired your workers using video interviews, their current positions are far from virtual, so you expect punctuality.

However, a recent study suggests that perhaps you can be more lenient when it comes to late workers. The study, which was conducted among 1,000 American, British, German, French and Irish employees and employers reveals 73 percent of bosses don’t mind if employees are late for work. In fact, U.S. employers will tolerate workers showing up 37 minutes late on average.

There are many industries, like healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing where workers usually work on shifts, where late workers are still quite unacceptable. But if you’re the head honcho in a creative industry, allowing workers more flexibility with their schedules may improve employee relations and your bottom line.

So how do you know when tardiness among workers is OK?

When It’s OK For Employees To Come In Late

According to the aforementioned study, employers who are more relaxed about workers coming in late expect employees to be more readily available throughout the day. In the age of laptops and smartphones, one in five employees has already checked his work email by 7 a.m., and the average employee has already spent up to 46 minutes working before he arrives at the office.

The work day has extended beyond 5 p.m., too. Although the average worker leaves the office around 5:48 p.m., he doesn’t stop fully working until about 7:19 in the evening. About 15 percent of U.S. bosses surveyed said they feel comfortable contacting employees up until 9 p.m., and many even allow employees to work remotely from home about a quarter of the week.

It’s OK for employees to come in late for work if they’re spending an increasingly amount of time accomplishing tasks outside of work and they’re in contact with the office while doing so. Other acceptable reasons for tardiness include:

1. Transportation Issues. Every worker (including employers) run into transportation issues every now and then. Getting stuck behind traffic accidents or running into unexpected car or public transportation issues usually aren’t a worker’s fault, but be wary of workers who claim they were caught in “the morning rush.” Most workers commute to the office, so if only one worker is delayed for this reason, you know it’s most likely because he didn’t leave home on time.

2. Illness or Exhaustion. All workers have some mornings where it just seems downright impossible to jump into their routines promptly. As an employer, you know that workers who are ill or overtired are really a hindrance in the workplace, so allowing these employees to get an additional couple hours of rest and then stay later in the day or spend the day working from home may be better for overall office morale (and health).

3. Poor Weather. Much like transportation issues, sometimes poor weather can really hinder workers’ ability to make it in on time. And while experienced professionals most likely know how much time four inches of snow or increased wind speeds add to their commutes, younger professionals may misjudge how the weather will affect their arrivals.

Transportation issues, illness or exhaustion and poor weather are excusable reasons for tardiness if given only on occasion. If tardiness for these reasons becomes a weekly occurrence for your employees, and they’re unwilling to stay in the office or remain available later in the evening, it’s much more likely that they’re unhappy with their jobs or they are poor fits for your office.

Document every time employees are late for work, and for those who are habitually late, schedule meetings to discuss if they’re satisfied with their positions. You may find that some workers simply feel more fulfilled with flexible schedules, like the study suggests. If that’s the case, relax! Late workers don’t need to be a problem!

When, if ever, do you think it’s acceptable for workers to come to the office late? Do you think a flexible schedule can benefit your workers?

SOURCE: Mozy via Mashable
Courtesy of

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).