No matter what type of business you are in, you are going to have employees that are chronically late. This means you need to be ready to handle such situations effectively to ensure you put a stop to their tardiness quickly as to not disrupt your daily workplace activities or create any tension among employees.

Unfortunately, it is never as easy as telling an employee just to stop being late. There may be unknown circumstances for their continual tardiness such as not being able to find proper childcare or medical issues. An employee may be late because they are no longer happy with their work, or perhaps dreads having to interact with workplace bullies. The list goes on and on. No matter the reason, it is important to handle the situation delicately.

Here are 7 different ways to effectively handle chronically late employees.

Set expectations

Dealing with late employees is an inevitable part of owning or managing a business. Make sure that your employees know exactly what is expected of them when it comes to being on time and the potential repercussions for being chronically late. This information should be provided during the hiring phase, and reminders should be sent annually or as frequently as you see fit. Ensure that employees know exactly why punctuality is important and how being chronically late effects the overall success of the business and other employees.

Be proactive

The best way to deal with late employees is to address the situation before it becomes a habit or gets out of hand. You can always expect employees to be late from time to time due to unforeseen circumstances, but if you begin to notice it is happening more often, it is time to step in and get ahead of the issue. Take the time to schedule a private meeting to speak with the employee to determine what steps need to be taken next.

Get to the root cause

As mentioned previously, there may be many factors that result in an employee being late. Make sure to ask the proper questions to determine what the true root cause of the continual tardiness is. You may find that the employee is simply terrible at time management, and just needs a reminder of the potential consequences of being late or you may find an employee is disappointed they have not been acknowledged for their efforts, resulting in them caring less about getting to work on time. Allowing the employee to tell their side of the story before jumping to conclusions will help you decide how to effectively handle the situation.

Outline the consequences

If you determine the employee is just bad at managing their time or just does not care about the potential effects it can have on your business or other employees; you will need to outline consequences if their behavior continues. Providing people with deadlines is one of the biggest motivating factors to make changes quickly, especially if the end result is them losing their job. Make sure the deadline you come up with is realistic and tailored to the employee’s situation.

Be patient

Nothing is going to happen overnight, so you will need to be patient when it comes to correcting the behavior of a chronically late employee. If you notice them making a genuine effort at getting to work on time, let them know you appreciate it. Acknowledging their positive behavior will let them know you are paying attention, and this, in turn, will hold them more accountable for their actions.

If you see no corrective actions from an employee right away, try to remember that change does take time. You have provided your employee with a deadline to make changes before any further consequences take place, so make sure to allow them that time to take the appropriate steps to correct their behavior.

Reinforce with rewards

One of the best ways to ensure employees get to work on time is to reinforce their positive behavior by providing rewards. Whether it be weekly, monthly, or yearly; a reward reminds your employees that you appreciate the fact that they take their job seriously and do their best to get to work on time. If a chronically late employees see that their coworkers are receiving rewards for their punctuality, this may encourage them to be on time, so they do not feel as though they are missing out.

Use time tracking software

Lastly, it’s important that you use good time tracking software. A good timeclock manager not only allows you to keep tracking of your employee’s time but also allows employees to see how frequently they are on time or late. Humans are visual creatures by nature, so being able to see punch times from a computer or phone will help them learn to better manage their time.

Handling chronically late employees is never an easy task. While having an attendance policy in place is a good start, ultimately it comes down to management being able to effectively enforce the policy when a situation arises. Make sure to give a chronically late employee time to correct their behavior. If no changes take place, then it may be time to cut your losses and let the employee go.