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Late for Work Again? Not the Ol’ “A Bear Attacked My Car” Excuse…

Late for WorkFor Americans who live and die by the advice/musical stylings of Kim Zolciak (which means all Americans, obviously), her warning against being “tardy for the party” evidently doesn’t extend to the workplace.

According to a new CareerBuilder study, one in four workers (26 percent) are late to work at least once a month, and 16 percent are late once a week or more.

What’s Your Excuse?

The survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and more than 3,900 workers nationwide also looked into the causes of tardiness: Traffic, unsurprisingly, was the number one culprit, according to 31 percent of workers, followed by lack of sleep, the need to drop off the kids at daycare or school, bad weather and public transportation delays.

Some employees, however, had less conventional reasons for their tardiness. Hiring managers who participated in the survey shared some of the most memorable excuses they’ve heard from employees who were late getting to the office, including:

  • Employee dropped her purse into a coin-operated newspaper box and couldn’t retrieve it without change (which was in the purse)
  • Employee accidentally left the apartment with his roommate’s girlfriend’s shoes on and had to go back to change
  • Employee’s angry wife had frozen his truck keys in a glass of water in the freezer
  • Employee got a late start because she was putting a rain coat on her cement duck in her front yard (because rain was expected later that day)
  • Employee’s car wouldn’t start because the breathalyzer showed he was intoxicated
  • Employee attempted to cut his own hair before work and the clippers stopped working, so he had to wait until the barber shop opened to fix his hair
  • Employee’s car was attacked by a bear (had photographic evidence)
  • Employee drove to her previous employer by mistake
  • Employee claimed to have delivered a stranger’s baby on the side of the highway

While a little tardiness is forgivable every now and again, regularly rolling into work late could be the sign of a bigger problem at hand, especially if it interferes with one’s job performance. In fact, more than a third of hiring managers said they had to fire someone for being late.

Flexible Schedules a Possible Solution

If tardiness is increasingly an issue at your organization, consider offering your employees the option of creating flexible work schedules, which enable them to set their own work hours. Flexible schedules can not only reduce tardiness and absenteeism, but they’re linked to increased employee morale, productivity and retention. Enabling employees to come and go on a schedule that works for them allows them to work when they are at their freshest, happiest and most productive.

If you’re considering implementing a flexible work schedule at your organization, use the following tips, adapted from Forbes:

  1. Be consistent: Create a policy that outlines who is eligible for flexible schedules, and stick to that policy.
  2. Set an example: Encourage employees to take advantage of and adhere to the flexible schedule policy by doing the same as a manager.
  3. Coordinate: Make sure everyone is aware of the policy, who is using it, and in what capacity.  
  4. Communicate: Talk openly and honestly about the policy and make sure to address any concerns employees may have.
  5. Check in: Make sure to meet with your employees on a regular basis to evaluate the policy and make changes as needed.
Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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