The Problem of Employee Tardiness and Absenteeism and Solutions

Tardiness is a major problem that costs national economies a lot of money every single year. For example, tardiness costs the U.K. roughly 9 billion pounds ($12.15 billion) annually.

The reason why tardiness is such an issue is because it prevents people from being able to be fully productive during their scheduled work hours. Tardiness forces companies to slow down, and to operate less optimally due to gaps in worker output. However, despite the fact that tardiness is such a major problem for companies and national economies alike, tardiness is not something that seems to be going away.

In fact, according to a study on employee attendance and tardiness conducted by Ximble, the average employee is late for 114.2 minutes. This is very significant, and it translates to almost two hours of productive work time lost per employee simply due to bad punctuality.

Understanding the problem

There are many reasons why employees are late. Here are the top five most common reasons why employees don’t make it to work on time:

1. Traffic
2. Lack of sleep
3. Problems with public transportation
4. Bad weather
5. Dropping children off at daycare or school

When bad weather strikes, there is often little that can be done by employees to get to work on time. For example, if a major snowstorm or hurricane occurs and closes roads, then it is understandable and reasonable for employees to not be able to make it in to work on time. In such circumstances, bosses often won’t be able to make it in to work on time either.

However, traffic, lack of sleep, problems with public transportation, and dropping children off at daycare or school are all things that can be dealt with. These are primarily logistical problems, and not problems due to acts of God, unlike bad weather. So, with a little more planning and organization, a lot can be done to fix these causes of tardiness.

Strategies for resolving employee tardiness and absenteeism

1. Get the schedule out well in advance

The earlier that you can get your employee work schedule out, the more likely that your employees will be to be on time. This is because if your employees have access to the schedule two weeks in advance vs. one week, then they will have more time to adjust their lives to their shift times. This gives them more time to do things like set up child pick up and drop off times from school, etc. Having advanced warning for their work schedules is very helpful for employees.

2. Use a scheduling app

A work schedule app, such as the Ximble app can allow employees to access the work schedule from their mobile devices. This means that they will be able to check the schedule from anywhere, which can help them to stay up to date and informed about any changes. Being able to access the work schedule on the go is definitely helpful for reducing employee tardiness.

3. Use shift reminders

Shift reminders are notifications that are sent to employees through apps such as the Ximble App. Shift reminders are extremely beneficial for preventing employee tardiness. In fact, according to the same study conducted by Ximble, when employees have shift reminders, the average number of minutes that an employee is tardy drops from 114.2 to 95.9. This is an incredibly significant difference.

4. Have negative consequences for employee tardiness

If you implement negative consequences for tardiness, then it can help to keep your employees on time. However, in order to make this work, you would have to make it clear to your employees that the negative consequences are in effect. So, for example, you could hold a meeting in which you let your employees know that being tardy three times in a month can result in termination. You can select the negative consequences that you believe are appropriate. This is just an example. At any rate, if your employees know ahead of time that they will face clear negative consequences for being late, then they will be much less likely to be late. This is opposed to having no negative consequences for being late.


If you are having a severe tardiness problem at your company, then it is definitely something that needs to be addressed. Tardy employees can lead to work that does not get done, which can lead to lost profits. This is not good for business. Instead of letting the problem go unchecked, try to get the schedule out well in advance, use scheduling apps, use shift reminders, and implement negative consequences for being tardy. All of these things can go a long way toward making your employees more punctual. The more punctual that your employees are, the more profitable that your company is likely to be, and the less stress that your managers will likely have to deal with.

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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