Have you seen the Top 10 lists of “Late for Work” excuses? One employee apparently convinced herself that a long line at Starbucks justified her tardiness. Another said a groundhog bit his bike tire and flattened it. And then there was the guy whose cat was in traction. No matter how creative the excuse, the fact is that workplace tardiness is on the rise.
According to a recent poll, 20% of employees are reporting to work late at least once a week. This is up 5% from last year, pre-Recession. It’s easy to understand this trend, when layoffs are rampant and stress is high. Most folks who dread going to work do not arrive super-early.
Every employee handles stress differently. Some thrive on it, tapping into their inner hero and becoming more efficient and focused than ever before. Others feel helpless and as a result, may be less productive. Still others might become angry, affecting others as they complain about the economy, politicians, or the unfairness of life.
Being late is a side effect of low morale. Whether your employees are passively punishing your company for layoffs or other cost-cutting measures, or are distracted by the stress the economy is putting on their lives, low morale can easily turn into a serious problem.
Managers and leaders need to take control of low employee morale before it gets out of hand. How? By banishing fear and anger, and replacing these nonproductive emotions with a realistic, hopeful picture of the future that everyone can buy into. Keep talking to your employees—even when you think you’ve done enough talking. Continue to assure your staff that everything will be okay, and that eventually the economy—and the company—will turn around.
Let them know that everyone is in the same situation—they’re not experiencing the stress alone. Encourage them help improve the company’s bottom line by making one more sales call, one small improvement in customer service, or by coming up with one new idea to cut costs. Remind them that profit cures all ills, and even a small increase can make a big difference for everybody.
With a hopeful environment at work, your employees will find better ways to spend their time than coming up with creative excuses for being late!