Are chronically late employees affecting your business? A CareerBuilder study reveals 16 percent of employees say they’re late for work at least once a week. For a small business, tardiness can have a significant impact on the bottom line leaving customers waiting, tasks overlooked, responsibilities forgotten and lost sales.

Before you start handing out pink slips, try these five ways to get your employees to work on time.

1. Document tardiness

You want to make sure you have documented proof of lateness before you take any action. Keep detailed records of days missed and late arrivals. Always ask your employees why they were tardy. Even make note of the times they let you know ahead of time they were going to be late. Having everything documented enables you to see patterns of time and attendance and helps you decide if you need to adjust schedules.

Depending on your type of business, you may want to stagger arrival times. If all your employees arrive at the same time, you might have a crowding situation. Or if employees like to chat before actually starting work, consider shifting arrival times to a bit earlier to accommodate “ease in” time. If your employees are mobile or virtual, there are plenty of time clock apps to help you keep track of when employees actually start work.

2. Talk to chronically late employees

Once you’ve identified patterns in employee punctuality, it may be time to change workplace policy. For example, if employees consistently come back late from lunch find out if the issue is just unaccountability or something else, like lack of food options close by. Do you have one microwave for your whole company and people have to wait to cook their food? Find out if chronically late employees in the morning have child-care issues or perhaps lack transportation. Talking to employees about lateness shows employees you care about their personal struggles, but also lets them know you’re aware of their lateness.

3. Review attendance guidelines

After you’ve made adjustments to your tardiness and attendance guidelines, go over them with your staff. Most employees are aware of their tardiness and won’t be surprised to get called out on the issue. Some, of course, will likely get defensive. What’s important is to review policies with the group as a whole and stress how important it is to be on time. If you don’t speak up, they think you don’t care.

Review who to contact if they know they will be late and what communication method you prefer, whether it is a phone call, text or email.

4. Follow up

Once you’ve gone over attendance policies, it’s important to stay on top of them. If you don’t follow up, employees will assume you are lax on the rules and take advantage of that. If certain employees continue to be late, tell them you are documenting their attendance and repercussions are inevitable unless the behavior changes.

5. Acknowledge improvements

Don’t make a huge deal out of employees arriving to work on time (after all, that should be the norm), but let them know you appreciate their efforts. Positive reinforcement helps keep your team on track.

The Right Tools Make All the Difference

If you need help monitoring employee attendance and time off requests, consider HRdirect’s web-based Attendance Calendar Smart App  which keeps track of who’s on the job, who’s called in sick and can spot troubling attendance patterns, and the Time Off Request Smart App that provides automated monitoring and documentation, so you’ll never forget or lose track of another request.

In partnership with HRdirect SmartApps

Late stock photo by VdZ/Shutterstock