How to Handle a Perpetually Late Employee

Do you remember that time your alarm didn’t go off; or when the train was one hour late; or when you lost your keys and couldn’t leave the house? Yep, it can happen to the best of us and when it does happen your morning sucks.

But, there are other people that aren’t bothered at all if they come in late for work, and sometimes they even make it their routine.

Okay, every employee can turn up late to work at least once in a while that is normal but what happens if you are a manager and some of your employees just make a habit of turning up late to work?

Here’s a quick guide on how to handle a perpetually late employee:

1. Become a Micromanaging Boss


I know, most of us cringe at the sound of the word micromanager, but sometimes this word needs to be used purposefully on late employees exactly because of its negative connotations.

It may be difficult to handle employees if you are a new manager as you don’t want to come across as agitated and controlling, and you usually fall into the trap of letting things slide. You are a cool manager now, right? But what if a pattern emerges and that person comes in late to work every day? You have to approach them at some point or else your boss will find out and blame you. But if you never showed any signs of noticing and approach them out of the blue to tell them about their “late bad habits” they will be shocked that you even paid attention to these things.

You need to let them know that punctuality is very important at work, and you can do that in several gentle ways and without shouting or being mean. For example, you can start off by walking by their desk when they show up late or say good morning to make a point that you notice their late appearances.

Most of them will feel bad and start apologizing or give you a valid reason why they were late, and eventually become more punctual without complaining that you were a mean micromanager.

2. Go For a Friendly Coffee

coffee with friends

If the above tip won’t work, then it’s time to call in the big gun - caffeine. If an employee persists on coming in late and ignores your comments every morning, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invite them for a quick coffee run.

When you go out to grab some coffee, it is expected that you have some casual small talk to make things less awkward. And when you are outside the workplace environment conversations are more relaxed, friendly and even personal. So, by asking how they are doing, you could find out several important things that may affect their lateness. For example, they may have a personal reason such as dealing with an illness in the family that keeps them from sleeping.

You can, therefore, as a manager, show your support and maybe work out a flexible, but temporary, program to help them until they settle down. Most people would greatly appreciate your understanding, and as soon as things get better, come back to the normal schedule and always be on time.

3. Discipline Them

woman is angry about being late at work

Well, if you have tried the above measures and none of them are working, then it’s time to take some serious action. No one likes this part, but sometimes discipline is what’s needed to handle a tardy employee.

So, after trying several discreet ways to let them know that being late is wrong, you need to pull them aside and notify them that unfortunately, you’ll have to write them up next time they are late. If they take your warning seriously, they won’t be late again, but if they ignore it and come in late once more, you will instantly let the HR know. This way no one can blame you for being a bad manager and the employee will eventually have to obey the rules or just get fired by HR.

See Also: How to Determine a Bad Millennial Employee During a Job Interview

Do you have any tips on how to handle a perpetually late employee? Let u know in the comments section below.