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How to Manage and Control Lateness & Absenteeism in the Workplace


“…one employee being late or absent can negatively affect not only store operations, but also their coworkers by making them stay to make up for the lost labor.” (Harvard Business School)

Managing and controlling lateness and absenteeism is essential for any organization’s success. These issues can lead to decreased productivity, low morale, and increased costs. To address them, employers must understand the causes and implement effective solutions. This blog outlines the best practices for managing and controlling lateness and absenteeism, including:

    1. Creating a clear attendance policy.
    2. Identifying root causes.
    3. Providing support for good attendance.
    4. Using TimeWellScheduled cloud-based solution to monitor attendance.

By following these practices, employers can improve employee engagement and productivity, creating a more positive work environment.

Employee Lateness

Employee lateness is when an employee arrives late to work or a scheduled meeting after the agreed-upon time, leading to decreased productivity, morale, and organizational performance.


Employee absenteeism occurs when an employee is habitually or occasionally absent from work without a valid reason or frequently arrives late or leaves early without prior approval. This can negatively impact productivity, performance, employee morale, and job satisfaction.

Workplace-Related Lateness and Absenteeism

Workplace-related reasons for absenteeism include job dissatisfaction, work-related stress, lack of support from team members, workplace bullying, and physical or mental health issues aggravated by work. Other reasons may include:

  • A need for recognition or opportunities for growth.
  • Feelings of burnout or exhaustion.
  • Conflicts with coworkers or management.

In some cases, absenteeism may be a symptom of a larger organizational issue, such as poor management practices or toxic work culture.

Employees may exhibit the following signs of work-related absenteeism: 

“…understanding the causes and effects (of lateness and absenteeism) should be a key priority of retailers.” – Caleb Kwon and Ananth Raman 

Frequent or Unplanned Absences

If an employee is frequently absent or has unplanned absences, it may indicate work-related issues such as job dissatisfaction, workplace conflict, or health problems. 

Poor Punctuality

Employees who consistently arrive late may also be experiencing work-related issues such as a lack of motivation or difficulty adjusting to workplace changes. 

Low Productivity

If an employee’s productivity has decreased significantly or does not meet performance expectations, it may indicate work-related stress, burnout, or disengagement. 

Reduced Communication or Engagement

Employees who become less communicative or engaged in their work may be experiencing work-related issues such as feeling undervalued, lacking growth opportunities, or sharing poor management practices. 

High Turnover Rates

If a particular department or team has a high turnover rate, it may indicate work-related issues such as poor leadership and low employee morale.

The Impact of Absenteeism & Lateness on Employers

Absenteeism and lateness can negatively impact company morale, decreasing productivity and creating a negative work environment. The cumulative impact can increase operational costs as employers pay overtime or hire temporary staff to cover absences. Furthermore, the financial costs of lateness and absenteeism

  • The US annual (economic) cost of employee absenteeism is approximately $225.8 billion. (CDC Foundation, 2022)
  • Unscheduled absences can cost employers up to 36% of the base payroll. (com)
  • The average cost of absenteeism per employee is $1,685 per year. (CDC)
  • A 1% increase in tardiness corresponds to a 1% lower sales per transaction. (Harvard Business School)
  • One employee’s lateness or absenteeism can increase the probability that coworkers must work longer. (Harvard Business School)

Create a Clear Attendance Policy

Create a Clear Attendance Policy

A clear attendance policy can help to set expectations for employees and outline the consequences of lateness and absenteeism. The policy should be communicated clearly to all employees and be enforced consistently. Ideas for creating a clear employee attendance policy:

  • Consult managers or shift supervisors and establish practical attendance rules based on the organizational realities.
  • Categorize attendance scenarios, determine appropriate disciplinary measures for each category, and apply a point system to allocate weights to each category.
  • Obtain employee feedback, incorporate their opinions into the final draft of the policy, emphasize how attendance affects career growth, and consider installing an electronic attendance system.

Address the Root Causes of Lateness and Absenteeism

Employers should take the time to understand the reasons behind employee lateness and absenteeism. This could involve conducting employee surveys or offering an anonymous feedback mechanism. By understanding the root causes, employers can develop strategies to address the issues and create a more positive work environment. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Keep complete records of employee attendance, address unscheduled absences, and no-shows immediately, and apply disciplinary actions consistently to all employees.
  • Identify patterns in absenteeism and lateness, communicate with employees to discover underlying causes, and reward good attendance and performance.
  • Conduct surveys to gather employee feedback on their work experiences and barriers to attending work on time.

Provide Support and Recognition for Good Attendance

Employers should recognize and reward employees who have good attendance records. This can encourage other employees to improve their attendance and punctuality. Additionally, employers should support employees struggling with attendance issues, such as providing access to mental health resources or flexible work schedules. Rewarding excellent or improved attendance might include:

  • Choose rewards that align with your company culture and recognize employees publicly.
  • Recognize employees’ efforts with perfect attendance by taking them out for lunches or promoting them to senior roles.
  • Show empathy and provide resources (benefits) to help employees overcome obstacles and improve attendance.

Utilize TimeWellScheduled Scheduling Software to Track and Monitor Attendance

TimeWellScheduled offers an employee attendance tracking system that can reduce employee lateness and absenteeism. Providing a clocking-in and out feature ensures that employees adhere to arrival, leaving, and break times. Its flexible scheduling feature alerts managers of tardy or absent employees and allows for proactive scheduling to minimize the effects of understaffing. Its reporting and analytics feature can identify attendance issues and trends, allowing managers to address them before they become chronic problems. Click here to learn more!

Managing and controlling lateness and absenteeism is achievable for employers. Clear attendance policies, identification of root causes, support for good attendance, and TimeWellScheduled’s attendance tracking software are practical solutions that can help create a more positive work environment and improve the organization’s bottom line. With the right tools and strategies, employers can reduce absenteeism and lateness, improve employee engagement and productivity, and achieve greater organizational success.

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