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Tips for dealing with frequent tardiness

Are you the business manager of a busy office? If so you may be facing a very common problem- an employee who comes in late. The problem seems to begin with a few times of lateness and lots of excuses and progresses to a chronic everyday problem that can run unchecked through an entire office staff. If you are a busy manager who simply wants to motivate his or her employees to be on time read on for some tips on dealing with frequent tardiness.

1. The first thing a manager should do is examine the why this is happening with this employee. Is the employee suffering from type of illness (depression, chronic fatigue etc.) or is there a home situation (marital problems, lack of child care etc.) that is contributing to the tardiness? If it is determined that the employee is suffering from a medical problem versus an outside situation that is influencing being on time than different tactics will have to be used.

2. If the problem of being on time is due to depression or other medical condition you may need further clarification from the treating physician. You may need to ask his doctor to be more specific in terms of what exactly you need to accommodate. Specific information may need to be requested such as: Are there any medical restrictions on hours of work per day/week? What would the medically recommended daily start time be? For how long a period of time would such an accommodation be required? Once these parameters have been defined in writing and the accommodation is made, if the employee subsequently violates the agreed-upon hours, standard company disciplinary procedures should be followed. The Americans with Disabilities Act still requires the employee to meet the accommodating schedule.
3. If the problem that is keeping the employee from reaching work on time is not medical related than consider brainstorming with the employee on what can be done to help them reach work on time. There are several options that can be utilized in helping the employee become more punctual such as a telecommuting arrangement in the morning hours, a change in status from employee to contractor or consultant, a willingness to participate in a transportation pool with other employees, etc. Broaching these ideas in a mind-set to an employee of finding ways to keep brilliant people who are assets and contribute to the organization goals often is most productive. Policies and regulations also are useful as tools for equity and compliance and can help provide outlines for the situation.
4. Help the employee understand that if you have a policy in place, you need to adhere to it. To do otherwise could lead to morale problems among your other employees, since they undoubtedly are the ones who have to pick up the slack when he's absent or late to work. Be sure to clarify that if the problem is not remedied than a disciplinary process will begin. Hopefully if you must begin the disciplinary process, it will shock your employee into a new frame of mind. However, you might also want to check to see if your company has an employee assistance program If your efforts fail and you are forced to discipline an employee, be sure to follow these guidelines:
 Make a habit of documenting attendance and other problems as you go along.
 Don't wait until there's a problem. Many systems today have the ability to generate reports to simplify the task. The alternative is to keep calendars and drop folders for each employee.
 In addition to documenting problems, you need to be thorough about documenting coaching and counseling sessions, whether they are formal and informal. You may need this information should the problem become worse.
 Always keep your Human Resources contact in the loop regarding disciplinary situations. Do this before you act and not after.
 Be consistent with the application of this policy.

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