Late to work? Chances are good that your employer will cut you a break, provided it’s not too often. After all, sometimes alarms really don’t go off, kids do get sick, trains run late, and buses get stuck in tunnels.
Yet, while managers typically ignore occasional tardiness — 25 percent of us are late once a month, according to a survey by employment site CareerBuilder — when it becomes chronic, it’s an entirely different story.
CareerBuilder found that 43 percent of managers have fired someone for being tardy. Meanwhile, co-workers get miffed, supervisors worry about how to respond, and the latecomers beat up on themselves even as they fabricate elaborate excuses.
For example, one intern from dating-app maker Cheekd was more than two hours late to the company’s Manhattan office.
“He claimed that the rain was coming down so hard that he spent most of his commute [walking to work] under scaffoldings,” says Lori Cheek, CEO of the company. When she asked him if he considered using an umbrella, “he told me he was ‘against them’ , ” says Cheek.
Dean Myerow, formerly of Bergen Capital in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, initially gave his tardy employee who said, “My dad is in the hospital” followed by, “My cat died” the benefit of the doubt. The worker eventually fessed up to lying. However, if Myerow had known the real reason, he might have been able to deal with it instead of firing his charge.
“It’s too bad, because when this guy was in the office, he was very productive,” he says.
That’s often the case, according to experts.
“People who are chronically late often have a great work ethic, love their jobs and are strong performers,” says Jan Jasper, a time-management consultant based in Plainfield, NJ, and author of “Take Back Your Time: How To Regain Control of Work, Information, and Technology” (St. Martin’s). She adds that some managers look past employee tardiness because it may not be the most important box to check.