Tardiness: Being late


Whether you’re a student or parent, admin assistant or office manager, there’s one thing that’s almost guaranteed to stunt your career progression and diminish your prospects: perpetual tardiness. We’re all human, we’ve all slept through an alarm and we’ve all been subject to powers beyond our control - we’re talking tedious traffic jams and utterly disruptive train strikes - but being late on a frequent basis can spell real trouble for both the culprit and their co-workers.

Just under a quarter of employers (23%) believe that arriving late to the office isn’t ever acceptable, even if all of the work gets done in core hours; while 13% of employees disagree. However, around 90% of employers and employees agree that arriving late to the office but making up time at the end of the day is occasionally acceptable - but you’d better have a good excuse.

It seems that the biggest cause of lateness is traffic, closely, followed by oversleeping and getting the kids ready and out of the door. But for anyone regularly finding reasons to excuse their inability to get to the office on time, it’s time to change this career-ending habit.

Work-life balance

Over half (64%) of the employers that we surveyed think that it’s sometimes acceptable to arrive early and leave late to meet deadlines, as even though work should be done during contracted hours, some flexibility can benefit employees and businesses alike. But companies are also starting to realise how important a good work-life balance is to the productivity and creativity of their employees, and because of that, most recognise that consistently working outside of contracted hours doesn’t make for a healthy or happy workplace.

After all, there’s a delicate balance between efficiency and effectiveness; and all too often, people work long hours because they’re simply not effective in their roles.

A healthy work-life balance gives employees a feeling of loyalty, greater pride in their organisation, and a willingness to recommend it as a great place to work; in other words, a higher level of job satisfaction. Employers can help this along by offering flexible or remote working, compulsory leave, and strict maximum hours.

The cause

Being late for work on a regular basis is often down to lots of issues, rather than a single cause - such as a lack of selfdiscipline or an inability to get organised. Adrenaline could even be a contributing factor, with some people enjoying the heady rush of excitement that comes with an impending deadline (or in this case, contracted hours).

For others, being late may be a way of striking out. Employers should keep a close eye on this, as the situation may be a little more sensitive and require a tad more understanding to get to the root of the problem.

The trouble with being late - and in particular, being late often - is the impact it can have on someone’s longterm career. No one wants to be seen as unreliable and uncommitted, but ultimately, never turning up on time means that’s exactly what’ll happen. When you’re late, people stop taking you seriously, giving you juicy projects, or keeping you in mind for promotion.

How to stop being late

First of all, it takes a conscious choice to change. Making a commitment to get into work on time is the first stage, but then it’s important to figure out the reason for perpetual lateness. Once that mystery is uncovered, employees could:

  • Set their alarm 15 minutes earlier
  • Prepare outfits and lunch the night before to save time in the morning
  • Reward themselves when they arrive early or on time
  • Pin down their most frequent excuses for being late, then wipe them out
  • Ask to work flexibly and start half an hour later
  • Arrive early but leave on time (59% of employers and employees agree that’s always acceptable)

Being punctual and reliable can do wonders for someone’s career. It can also help co-workers to stay motivated, and business to stay productive. The key is to identify where the problem lies and figure out the best solution; and if you need any extra help or advice, get in touch with us. We’re always more than happy to help.

Download our ahead of the game research on tardiness.