Most managers understand that, sometimes, unforeseen sh*t happens on the way to work – your child woke up sick, the train is delayed, the Starbucks barista got your order wrong, etc. – and you can’t always make it into the office at 8 a.m. sharp. Hey, it happens. (And, really, who can be expected to function that early without a tall, non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte with soy milk – NOT almond milk, which you were very specific about?)
In fact, it happens a lot. According to CareerBuilder’s annual survey on late-to-work excuses, 1 in 4 workers come in late to work at least once a month, and 14 percent do it every week. While the most common culprits for arriving late are traffic, missed alarms, bad weather, lack of sleep or trying to corral the kids, every once in a while, something so epic happens that it seems too improbable to be believed.
Take, for example, these strange-but-are-they-possibly-true? excuses employees actually gave for being late to work, according to the hiring managers surveyed in CareerBuilder’s annual study:
- “I thought of quitting today, but then decided not to, so I came in late.”
- “My hair caught on fire from my blow dryer.”
- “I was detained by Homeland Security.”
- “I had to chase my cows back into the field.”
- “A black bear entered my carport and decided to take a nap on the hood of my car.”
- “My lizard had to have emergency surgery in the morning and died during surgery. I had to mourn while deciding whether to have the lizard disposed of by the vet or bring the lizard corpse with me to work.”
- “There was fresh powder on the hill. I had to go skiing.”
- “There was a store grand opening and I wanted to get the opening day sales.”
- “I had to finish watching “My Name is Earl.’”
- “All of my clothes were stolen.”
- “I was confused by the time change and unsure if it was ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back.’”
- “A Vaseline truck overturned on the highway and cars were slipping left and right.”
As hard to believe as some of these excuses may be, they say truth is stranger than fiction, so who’s to say if these people are making it up? The survey did not reveal whether or not the employees were trying to deceive their managers, but it did shine some light on the reasons employees may feel compelled to lie: Forty-one percent of employers have fired someone for being late.
The majority of managers, however, are pretty forgiving when it comes to tardiness. One third of employers surveyed say they have no problem with the occasional late arrival, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern, and 16 percent say they don’t really care about punctuality at all so long as employees still get their work done. It certainly helps that most late-arriving employees (62 percent) say they will stay later to make up for it.
Tell us: Have you ever caught an employee lying about why they were late? What’s the strangest late-to-work excuse you’ve ever heard? Tell us in the comments section below or tweet @CBforEmployers