Tardiness affects more than just an employee's paycheck. Late employees, especially those who come in late often, impact multiple areas of the business, including other employees and the company's bottom line. Employers must handle frequently late employees quickly and in accordance with a set lateness policy to prevent the situation from escalating. The use of a clear late policy in writing and available for all employees to view ensures everyone is treated the same.
An employee who isn't working when he's supposed to is an immediate loss of productivity. Routine interruption may throw other employees off, particularly those who rely on the late employee to do parts of their jobs. Frequently, late employees hinder productivity on a bigger level than an employer might initially realize. For example, an employee working on a project who is late 10 minutes each day for a week loses nearly an entire hour of work. If another employee needs the late person to do his project part, he may lose nearly as much work time despite being punctual.
Frequently late employees may lower everyone's morale. The late person isn't following the rules and may lead other employees to feel angry about the unfairness of the situation. The morale of immediate co-workers may plummet because the employee's lateness puts stress on them, especially if they have to cover for the late employee or fall behind in their own jobs.
Late employee disruptions affect time-sensitive areas of the job, such as customer service. If an employee is late and doesn't make a delivery to a customer on time, for example, the customer may end the relationship with the employer. A late employee who is supposed to open a location at a specific time may lose customers if she's not there when she's supposed to be. Multiple incidents of poor customer service will affect the employer's reputation and may discourage potential customers.
Allowing one or more employees to come in late frequently can undermine the employer's management team. Other employees may begin to feel as if the rules don't apply to the late employee and come in late themselves. When management consistently lets someone slide, other employees may lose respect for the people in charge.