Services that Conflict-Resolution Professionals Provide
Doing Business in a Multicultural Environment
Recognizing (and Avoiding) Common Management Mistakes

How to Handle Late or Absent Employees

You have to address chronic lateness or absenteeism from an employee. If your employee comes in to your business late every morning — or is absent, or taking personal day after personal day — you'll soon develop a problem. For starters, you won't be able to rely on this employee to complete his or her part of projects. You might also develop a morale issue, if other employees think the problem employee is getting preferential treatment.

  • Lateness: How do you deal with chronic lateness? For starters, you stop it before it becomes chronic. Even if your best employee shows up late for the first time, call him or her on it. You don’t have to read the riot act; you just need to let him or her know that you noticed.

    If you address tardiness the first time, and the first time turns into the second, and the second into the third, then the tardiness has become a performance issue. Handle it like any other performance issue — it's time for a serious one-on-one meeting.

  • Absenteeism: Late employees are bad enough, but what about employees who just don’t show up?

    Of course, everyone gets sick. Most people call to let you know they won’t be at work on a given day. But what if days turn into weeks, or the absences exceed acceptable limits over a period of time? Once the problem is apparent, you need to take action.

    If your employee doesn’t come to work and doesn’t call, catch it the first time it happens. Call the individual that morning and ask whether he or she plans to come in. Find out why the person is out of the office. After you uncovered the reason for the absence, remind him or her that you need and expect all employees to call in as soon as possible, regardless of the situation.

Chronic lateness or absenteeism is often a sign of a serious personal issue. Your employee could be dealing with anything from a sick or dying parent or child, to alcohol or drug dependency, to living in an abusive situation. When you have your one-on-one meeting, if you feel comfortable, consider asking the employee if he or she has anything going on that you can help with — just be prepared to GIVE that help once you've offered it. Assisting an employee through a particularly rough patch in his or her life can turn a problem employee into one of your most loyal employees once the issue is in the past.

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