Arriving a few minutes late appears to be harmless, especially if the reason justifies it. Yet a regular skipping a first quarter of morning work can bring harsh consequences for business, that reach beyond hours of particular employee’s productivity.

According to the recent study published by the HRDiveup to 6% of american hourly workers arrive late to work. Also, up to 25% of employees are struggling to be on time, being late from time to time, indicates the CareerBuilder study. Considering that, tardiness is a common yet not a catastrophic problem in society.

But when it comes to business, little by little does the trick, whether it applies to good and bad things. So the effects of every little tardiness can build up a large problem for a company. And there are multiple reasons behind that.

Stacking up for unproductive hours

Assuming that the employee is working eight hours a day, with five-day workweek, coming late to work for five minutes every day stacks up for 25 minutes a week - effectively more than an hour and a half in a four-week period. If the employee is going out from work later to be fair - that is not a tragedy, assuming the nature of the work allows that.

But if not, the company loses this time of work, while still paying for it. Also, the time from multiple employees is stacking, so if the whole team is coming to the office late, there are hours lost due to “the little tardiness”. An employee who appears ten minutes later every day has an equivalent of a fully paid week vacation yearly. In the case of the UK economy, the cost of hours lost due to employee tardiness stacks up to 9 billion pounds.

Last but not least, being regularly late hurts the mental discipline. If one gets used to being late to the work, the initial five minutes can transform into ten, later 15 or more - because why not? It is only a little tardiness, nothing to be ashamed of, right?

Actually, not.

Hurting the team morale

Dealing with a teammate who is always late generates many tensions in the team. Depending on the company’s attitude toward the tardiness, it can produce several outcomes.

  • If the company doesn’t mind, employees who are always on time can feel discouraged and disregarded - their commitment to being fair toward their employer comes with no advantage, while coworker who is always late suffer no consequences. It can result both in encouraging fair ones to be late, because why not. Else, if tardiness is just not in the employee’s nature, it results in the deep frustration and probably changing the work in the end.
  • If the company fights with that, the employees can feel oppressed - sometimes arriving late to theoffice is just unavoidable. Being equally strict toward people who are late regularly and ones who skip the first several minutes of work after clocking in due to unpredictable events builds a culture of fear in the company.

In the end, ignoring the problem is not a solution and it can be as hurtful as overreacting.

Manage employees lateness using time tracking software like Calamari Clock In

Photo taken from Pexels

Undermining the discipline

No matter the approach, the tardiness undermines the respect of an employee toward the company and management. But not only the one who is notoriously late. If the manager ignores the matter, he positions him or herself as a person who avoids solving the problem.

If the company is strict toward tardiness yet the problem still persists, it can be a clear sign, that it is helpless against even the slightest problem.

Regardless of the outcome, lack ofrespect is hurting the business in multiple ways. The bad vibe coming from tardiness and tension from it can be disastrous in the long run.

Customer dissatisfaction

Every company exists mainly to deliver some services or goods - and thus to earn money. If the employee is coming late frequently, the customer gets not the service he or she expects. It can be either prolonged waiting for an answer or getting his or her order too late.

If the problem is not widespread in the company, the overall impact on the customer satisfaction can be limited. But if the tardiness is common among employees, the stacked amount of lost and unproductive time will eventually burst in a form of a catastrophe - and there are data for that. Up to 86% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer experience - this one, that is hampered by being late to work.


Management problems

Being late is always a kind of “dark matter” in the production process that can appear as a surprise in the crucial moment - be that an unexpected absence of a key employee, a work undone on time, or any other problem one can imagine.

Considering this huge amount of uncertainty in the company, management becomes more a crisis-avoiding than the real process-shaping. Also, the management team needs to make many assumptions to secure the company’s smooth operation.

Employee lateness nad its impact on workflow. Time tracking with Calamari Clock In software

Photo taken from Unsplash

Easy ways to tackle the tardiness

Tardiness show lack of respect, hurts morale, and undermines discipline. Thus, it is not a thing the company can tolerate. Sometimes the way of written warnings for being late to work is enough.

On the other hand thou, direct confrontation is not always what works best. The modern business needs to look for more elastic and agile solutions, like:

Clock-in clock-out

The top of mind connotation can be the card-based system seen in factories, but that’s not the whole truth. Modern clock-in clock-out solutions are mobile and user friendly. Calamari supports not only a manual clock-in but also an automated way to check the time of arrival in the office based on beacons.

If the challenge is in getting early in the morning, the traffic jams or any other obstacle, not in a lack of respect from the employee toward the company, a gentleman's agreement on staying late to work the hours that would be lost with tardiness should be enough.

Flexible work schedule

The other side of the same coin. Flexible work schedule enables the employee to better fit his daily life duties with his or her work schedule. Thus, more agility in managing the working time can be beneficial not only for the employee but also the employer. It builds mutual respect and understanding, as well as helps to deliver the work on time.


The tardiness can be seen both as a challenge, but also a bit antiquated approach toward work ethics. The modern workforce is decreasingly based on hard manual labor with an increasing share of creativity and analysis-based work. The upcoming robotization of the manual tasks will only support this trend.

Also, the employees who are late at work appear to be more productive and creative ones. So why not turn this foe into a friend and incorporate an elastic approach to work as the best way to tackle the tardiness? Let us kno what are your thoughs about the topic - write to us! And find out Calamari Leave to better manage your team!

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