T & A: There’s Never Been a Better Time to Get Some

Time and attendance headaches are everyone’s problem.

Have you ever had an issue with a chronically late employee?  You know the one.   He slinks in at 9:30 a.m. more than a couple of days per week, even though his official arrival time is supposed to be 9:00 a.m.  Does he provide a simple phone call that he’ll be late or even a half hearted apology?  Certainly not.  What’s worse, after his late arrival, he’ll spend the first 15 minutes drinking coffee and hanging out at the water cooler.  Pretty soon you’ll start to hear some rumblings from the rest of your team, and why not? This guy is coming in late and you, the awesome manager that you are, aren’t doing a darn thing about it.  What’s that you say?  He’s an exempt employee and he’s sort of getting his work done when he’s here.  So, it really shouldn’t matter if he’s late more than on time and gets most of his work done half the time- right?

Let’s be clear here. I not suggesting that you become a clock-nazi or that your micro-manage every employee’s minute-by-minute activity.  What I’m talking about here are those employees who abuse time by coming in late on a consistent basis and really, not offering much in the way of productivity. I’m speaking of when frequent tardiness becomes a distraction.  Most of the times, the problem isn’t so much that someone is late to work it is that he/she is consistently late to work and is a subpar employee.  Believe it or not, it affects the rest of the team.  If you don’t get this under control, pretty soon you’ll have other team members showing up whenever, and essentially daring you to say something to them. And you know what, they’d be right.  Remember, your policy is only as strong as the weakest enforcement.

Okay, then, how should you be handling chronic tardiness amongst your staff? Assuming that you have a fabulously wonderful/capable HR Department, you should probably get some advice from them first.  They should have firsthand knowledge about your company’s policies and procedures on time and attendance.  Beyond that, there are a few pointers that I can offer which should help the conversation with your wayward employee go just a little bit smoother.


CLEARLY define your expectations to your employees-verbally first and then in any performance management write-ups you may have to issue.

The first time or two an employee is late may not be so annoying.  When it gets to occurrence number three, you’re dangerously treading into a performance management issue. However, in all fairness, you should say something way before you’re reaching out to HR to start the termination paperwork.

Call a meeting with the offending employee and have the guts to let him know what the issue is and what needs to change.  That should hold true to any performance issue you have, really. Having the guts to say something is better than not saying anything at all when there’s a problem.


#2.  Be FAIR:

Nothing kills morale faster than a manager who has a double standard.

If you’re going to hold one of your employees to the standard, then hold them ALL to the same standard.

Unless of course you don’t mind a mutiny on your team in the middle of a busy client season.

Your employees know who the habitually late offender is on the team.  Trust me, they may not be saying anything to you, but they know, and they’re discussing it amongst themselves.  And having someone who comes in late and doesn’t pull his weight will usually cost you much more than productivity costs.  It may cost you your best employees when they get tired of pulling the dead weight.  Good employees appreciate, and deserve, the firm disciplining of their sub-standard colleagues.

#3.  Be BRAVE:

Why brave you ask?  Well, it takes courage to call someone out on his negative behavior.  It’s uncomfortable and can be unpleasant.  Let’s face it, most people don’t want to be the one the “mean parent”. And honestly, you don’t have to be.  But, would you rather have a bad apple on your team making everyone bitter and resentful?  No, of course you wouldn’t. And again, if you have a HR Department that you trust, you should be able to seek the help you need on having these conversations. That’s what we’re here for.

Managing your employee’s Time and Attendance doesn’t have to be daunting if you properly handle expectations for employees.  If you are fair in your management style, specific in communication and brave in execution, it will go over better than expected.  If you do nothing, you’ll risk alienating your most valuable asset- your employees.


Author: Felicia Crawford-Smith

During her 10-year career in Human Resources, Felicia has held a variety of positions ranging from Benefits to HR leadership, as well as a non-HR business role as a Planner. She has held a leadership role as the HR Director/Business Partner of a global organization, and successfully built a HR department in a startup company. Currently she holds an HR management role in the healthcare field. Felicia’s overall experience includes employee relations, partnering with managers on business issues, policy and procedures, and providing a broad range of strategic HR services, including coaching, goal setting, performance management, leadership training, and development. Felicia is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), and the Atlanta Women’s Network (AWN). An Atlanta, Georgia native, Felicia holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Political Science from Howard University, and a Masters of Science in Business Management from the University of Maryland. Felicia has also earned both a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. View all posts by Felicia Crawford-Smith →

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