Why Is It So Hard for People to Arrive on Time?

Punctuality is one area where many people struggle.

Even for those among us who may have the best intentions when it comes to time management, it seems that arriving on time is a constant struggle; and for many, it’s a battle that they’re losing.

According to one survey, nearly 30 percent of all Americans arrive late for work each day. Chronic lateness, it seems, isn’t just a rare or isolated issue. While most employees might know the value of being early, they might underestimate the issue with arriving a few minutes later. Maybe they think it’s such a small amount of time that it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re showing up.

The truth is that the repercussions of tardiness are more serious than you might think.

For employees, being late can cause issues for customers who may have appointments. It can also cause problems for coworkers, who may be expected to step in and pick up the slack or stay later after their shift ends to wait for their late coworker to arrive. Of course, consistently having to go above and beyond for a coworker who is constantly late can cause them to feel a sense of resentment, which could have a detrimental effect on productivity and workplace morale.

All of this begs the question: why are some people perpetually late? If you want to know how to be on time, it’s important to understand everything that’s having a negative impact on punctuality. Let’s take a look at a few reasons that many people find timeliness to be a real struggle.

A Lack of Communication

Instead of considering tardiness as your team being inconsiderate, take personal responsibility. In many cases, a lack of clear communication can result in employees turning up late. If you aren’t clear in expressing your expectations and neglect to outline exactly when they should arrive and what happens if they are late, your employees will have a hard time understanding why timeliness is an important issue. Being clear and honest with your team is the best place to start.

No Consequences

If there are no consequences for being late, then an employee may be tempted to simply let the pattern continue. After all, if the boss doesn’t mind you being twenty minutes late, then why not sleep in a little longer? Make sure you have a plan in place to handle late people that outlines steps that will be taken to address the issue before it impacts your company culture. Dr. Pauline Wallin led a study that found that chronically late people have issues with procrastination, self-control, and restlessness at work. Additionally, Jeff Conte, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University, says people who are often late perceive time differently than others.  It will be hard to overcome these sort of mental blocks, but the first step would be ensuring employees have adequate motivation to try.

Employees Are Not Engaged

When an employee is not engaged at work, they will have little motivation to keep close track of time and be punctual. This is a growing problem, especially considering that 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged. By working to create a more engaged workforce, you’ll be able to reap a number of benefits including punctuality, as well as improved loyalty and productivi

Employees Are Overworked

Employees that are overworked have a harder time continually arriving to work on time.

Have you considered the workload your employees have taken on or been given? Perhaps they’re overwhelmed at work, and the pressure is causing them to feel discouraged and demotivated – the last thing you want employees to feel. Or, it could be that they are putting in a lot of hours and working late, giving them little time to recuperate.

In some cases, you may want to consider whether your team should be taking on as much overtime as they do. If you’re short staffed, perhaps hiring a temp worker to help with the busy season would be a better idea. Other times, you may want to consider instituting a flexible work arrangement. Allowing your team to work from home once or twice a week or implementing a flexible work schedule could make it easier for your team to keep up with a grueling workload. Just be careful not to be assign shifts at the last minute.

Management Problems

Finally, if you are dealing with perpetually late employees, you might take a minute to evaluate your management. Are the managers arriving on time? Are they consistently enforcing the rules? Do team members know they’re appreciated, or could they be silently sufferingfrom low self-esteem? Consider the example your management is setting, and make sure they’re taking appropriate action to address tardiness.

While there could be any number of reasons for an employee’s lateness, at the end of the day, it’s important to do everything that you can to ensure that your workplace is one that’s designed to encourage on-time attendance. Then, work to establish set procedures for combating lateness before it becomes an issue.

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