You’re late! – But does it even matter?

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The growing desire for flexibility means the importance of punctuality is slipping – but should you still reprimand your workers if they turn up a little late? Here, two HR pros weigh in.

“What you want from your employees is commitment, not compliance,” says HRD Bob Lane. “I think a far more enlightened approach is to create a culture and environment where people want to be there.”

Lane is the director of people care and communications at Solvera Solutions – he says employers shouldn’t strive for a “clock-watching environment” that’s designed solely to get people there, but should focus on creating an environment that gets people engaged while they are there.

“Go for full engagement first and be as flexible as you can in meeting people’s unique needs,” he advised.

However, flagrant tardiness can have a serious impact on productivity if it’s taken too far. According to a study by tiptopjob.com, 20 per cent of employees admit to being late for work every single day. That means if one employee is just five minutes late every day, 20 hours of productivity is lost across the full year.

A further 14 per cent said they were late approximately once a week and 21 per cent said they were late one a month.

HR manager Ilka Bene used to work for British Columbia Ferry Services – she says being late can be a much bigger deal depending on the specific workplace. 

“If an employee is a few minutes late then the whole ship would be late and we’d pay overtime so it’d be a very big deal,” explained Bene.

Now, Bene heads up the HR department at financial institution, Island Savings. ”Within our non-member facing functions, we’ve got the opportunity to be a lot more flexible,” she says – but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to be late.

Bene says she tries to set up schedules that work for employees and their families but the deal is; you have to stick to that schedule so the team know what to expect.

“We have an impetus to provide excellent member service and one of the ways we that is through team work,” said Bene. “If someone is a few minutes late it might not be the end of the world but it really does impact the rest of the team.”
  • Bruce on 3/02/2015 2:44:04 p.m.

    Feelings about punctuality can be culture specific - so how about writing something about what New Zealand HR professionals or employers think? No mention of employees leaving late or staying longer when it's required. If it's individual task oriented work, obsessive punctuality demands can be interpreted by employees as a power play and get them offside. I think it really depends on whether punctuallity is really required beyond an English idea of timekeeping for the sake of discipline.

  • Stephany Mitchell on 3/02/2015 2:27:51 p.m.

    I would be interesting if you'd included what gains were from staffing working additional unpaid time. This is the swings and roundabouts of flexibility.

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