12 crazy reasons workers couldn’t be on time

We’ve all been there: A staffer is running late, and when they finally arrive, the excuse seems … well, let’s just say less than believable.  

Their car wouldn’t start, then magically got better. They got stuck in traffic when a worker who lives five minutes away from them made it in without a problem.

Most managers know when to pick and choose their battles. But when Career Builder surveyed 5,000 managers to get the craziest late excuses they’ve ever heard, the results were jaw-dropping:

  1. Woke up on a lawn two blocks away from his home
  2. The cat got stuck in the toilet
  3. Had to run out to buy some milk and cereal before coming into work
  4. Fell asleep in the car in the building’s parking lot
  5. Thought Halloween was a day off work
  6. Wound up in the emergency room by confusing superglue with contact lens solution
  7. A hole in the roof caused rain water fall on the alarm clock and break it
  8. Really wanted to see the end of a TV program
  9. Forgot that the company changed locations
  10. Got a hairbrush stuck in her hair
  11. Was scared by a nightmare, and
  12. A zebra on the loose was tying up traffic.

That last one? Actually happened.

Dealing with tardy techs

You probably have a lot easier time managing systems than people from time to time. And lateness can be one of those things that is a different priority for every workplace.

In some departments, not having techs in on time is a serious problem. For others, flex time and scheduling can make it less of a priority.

According to the survey, 34% of managers let workers slide if they’re late every once in a while. And 18% don’t care much if workers are late, just as long as they get their work done.

On the other hand, 35% have fired employees for tardiness.

What’s the right approach?

There’s really no one-size-fits-all policy for lateness. Just be sure to:

  • Communicate clearly whether employees are expected to be on time every day and what the consequences will be for lateness.
  • Enforce lateness policies consistently for all employees they affect.
  • Let the team know if there’s a project or change that will require them to be in exactly on time, and
  • Let employees know whom they should inform if they’re running late – and the acceptable way to inform them (text message, email, phone call, etc.)

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