The cost of lateness to your business

Cost of lateness

We recently took a look at 14 of the lamest excuses employees have given for being late.

While some of them might be ludicrous to the point of laughter, what’s not so funny is the impact.

It’s estimated that employee lateness costs businesses £9 billion a year*, but it goes much further than just money too. So, let’s take a look at seven areas lateness can cost your business.

1. Money down the drain

While 10 minutes here and there might not seem like much at the time, it all adds up. As an example, let’s say you’ve got an employee who turns up 10 minutes late twice a week. Over the course of the year, that’s 17.2 hours’ worth of lateness – two working days!

2. Time taken having conversations

If lateness starts to become an issue, you’ll need to follow a fair and consistent approach – which, of course, will soak up some of your time.

In the first instance, we’d recommend following an informal process to see if this is enough for the employee to make improvements. If this approach isn’t fruitful, then you might choose to go down the disciplinary route.

3. Productivity? What productivity?

If an employee’s not in work, then they’re not doing their job, which means productivity will inevitably suffer as a result.

Whether it’s missed meetings, unsent emails, untiled bricks or unattended customers, productivity losses can come in many forms.

4. Unhappy customers

For businesses in the retail and hospitality industries, for example, staff shortages could lead to unhappy clients if it means they’re not being serviced on time. The worst outcome? Lost business.

And for places like care homes, nurseries or schools (to name just a few), it could prove problematic in terms of maintaining staff ratios.

5. Morale

Think of it from other employees’ perspective. If certain members of the team are regularly arriving late – and getting away with it – it can be pretty demoralising.

For starters, they might end up having to pick up the slack, which could add more stress to their plate. In addition, they may become disgruntled that their colleagues are getting away with fewer hours, which could in turn impact on overall morale. Consequently, productivity quality could deteriorate too.

As the good old saying goes ‘happy staff work harder’. Lateness might not seem like an issue at the time, but it’s always important to consider the potential effects further down the line.

6. Management problems

Lateness – as with any other type of workplace misdemeanour – must be handled consistently and fairly. If you keep brushing it under the carpet, it could undermine your management and lead to people thinking it’s something they can get away with.

7. Underlying issues

At one point or another, everyone’s late – it can’t be helped. But reoccurring lateness can be a cause for concern and a sign of problems below the surface.

Often – but not always – employees who’re regularly late tend to be demotivated, which has a number of implications in itself. From less discretionary effort to negative attitudes, disengaged employees can be really damaging to your business.

Don’t let it get you down

If you’re struggling to crack down on lateness, then you’re not alone. The silver lining? We can help.

When it comes to HR & Employment Law, we really are the experts. We’ll put together your business’ lateness policy, provide practical solutions – around the clock, and give you access to our online management platform – Atlas, so you can seamlessly record and monitor lateness instances.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or

*According to research conducted by Heathrow Express.

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