Getting People to Come in to Work on Time

01/17/2024 | Roger and Susie Engelau

In a recent coaching session with a veterinarian owner, the owner said, “We’re having trouble getting people to come in to work on time. What can we do about that?” She didn’t want to fire them because the employees who were tardy, otherwise, added value and were steady contributors to the team.

And that was the 4th time in a week we’d heard a business owner say they’re having trouble getting people to come in to work on time.

Here are some practical things from our coaching sessions with small business owners on ways to get people to come in to work on time—

Have metrics that show people’s on-time percentage.

We ranked and publicized employees’ on-time percentages and hung it up in the break room. It was a simple table ranked best to worst. It worked. Within a week, everyone on the team was coming in on time. That’s what metrics do for you.

If you’re thinking these generated complaints from the offenders, you’re right. It did. The answer to the complaint however is ‘Everyone knows you’re coming in late anyway.’Reward employees for getting to work on time

Offer incentives to employees who arrive on time consistently.

One business owner gives ½-day off for every 6 months of on-time arrival. Or you could offer a monetary bonus.

Rearrange the work schedule and ask for volunteers to come in earlier.

When you’ve got the kind of business where customers are coming in the door at 8 am and you need to have the company ready to go at 8 am, ask a couple of people who are always on time to come in 30 minutes earlier (of course they get to end their work day 30 minutes earlier), then move the start time back 30 minutes for the ones who tend to be late.

Speaking of the work schedule, offer flexible schedules wherever possible.

One of the biggest stressors for employees is that their time is out of their control. So, give them some control back. Give them input into creating the work schedule. Try asking what their ideal work schedule is and work together to get as close as possible to it. Sometimes we business owners get stuck in our ways thinking outdated work schedules are necessary. It can’t hurt to take a second look at them if there’s a chance it can help people get to work on time.

Let people understand the impacts of their coming in late.

Sometimes people just don’t think about the ramifications of their not coming in on time. Just letting them know you have a whole crew of people waiting for them to come in and do their part can open their eyes. Or you have customers standing at the door, or in the case of a medical office, even when you let them in the door they still have to wait to be processed. That leaves all the doctors standing around waiting to see patients. Or you, as the business owner, have to stop what you’re doing to jump in, apologize, and process customers. Getting people to come in to work on time sometimes just takes stating what seems obvious to you but may not be to your employees.

Make sure supervisors have the job site ready to start.

A construction company owner had people arriving at the job site late but when we dug deeper, we learned that the job site wasn’t ready to go right at 8:00. Instead, job site supervisors were finishing coffee or still setting up. Employees didn’t want to arrive early, only to stand around waiting to start work so tardiness had crept in over the months and years. If everything’s ready for an on-time start, then if people come late, they have to play catch up and figure out where to jump in. To avoid the embarrassment, they’ll start coming to work on time.Getting people to come in to work on time

Similarly, make sure the meeting starts absolutely on time.

If you say the meeting starts at 8 am, then be there early to set it up so that it absolutely starts at 8 am every time. Then natural consequences kick in—embarrassment from walking in late, having to mumble an apology in front of co-workers, and to figure out what they’ve missed in the conversation.  After a couple of times, people get the clear message to be on time.

Finally, when you’re having trouble getting people to come in to work on time, make sure you have the basics in place—

Set clear expectations.

Make sure your employees know exactly what time they’re expected to arrive.

Create a positive work environment.

People are more likely to arrive on time if they enjoy coming to work.

So, in summary, metrics, incentives, rearranged or flexible work schedules, letting people know the burden their tardiness places on others, and ensuring everything starts on time are some practical ideas for getting people to come in to work on time.

Do you want some ideas for getting people to come in to work on time for your specific business? Click here to set up a no-strings-no-sales Discovery call and we’re happy to jump on a call and give you some free solutions.