How Do You Get Employees to Be on Time

Increase your employees’ accountability with proven managerial tools and tactics! Everyone who has worked as a manager for any amount of time has experienced difficulties with employee punctuality. All workplaces seem to have one or two people who arrive five minutes late at least once every two weeks. So, how do you get employees to be on time?

As new excuses for tardiness emerge over time, so do managerial responses. Mastering the various methods for getting employees to show up on time will increase productivity, improve overall accountability, and defuse any resentment between workers. The question that should be asked is, “How do I motivate employees to be on time?”

This article explains useful tips, tricks, and techniques for getting employees to show up on time with positive and negative reinforcement, morale improvements, and schedule flexibility. It’ll also explain how implementing a time clock app will track employee hours, centralize time management, and allow managers to see a snapshot of work hours.

1. Establish Expectations Early On

If you want to find out how to get your employees to be on time, you should know that tardiness prevention represents the best way to improve worker punctuality. Clearly explain your expectations at the point-of-hire and demand a response from the candidate that demonstrates his or her understanding of attendance rules.

Manager Tip: Consider asking your new hires to sign punctuality agreements to prevent them from claiming ignorance of company rules in the future.

Once your new employee starts work, closely track employee hours to ensure early compliance. Emphasize time management during work hours by restating your expectations at least once a week. And, when an employee shows up late to work, call him or her into your office immediately. One shouldn’t let it slide because the busyness of the day can cause forgetfulness.

Allowing officemates to see the repercussions of lateness provides an added benefit to addressing the tardy employee right when he or she walks through the door. It also puts the rest of the office on notice that no one can get away with showing up late. In short, establishing punctuality requirements before and after hiring will head off most future delinquencies.

2. Talk with Your Employees

Some employees need a little extra encouragement from management. But, how do you motivate your employees to be on time? If you’ve remained diligent about employee time tracking during work hours and a worker seems to have difficulties showing up on time, feel free to speak with that employee to find out what causes the tardiness.

Try to keep an open mind when questioning an employee’s unsatisfactory attendance. The employee could be experiencing a significant life event that resulted in a temporary bout of tardiness. If you find this to prove true, consider expressing your understanding and letting that employee off with just a warning.

For employees who demonstrate chronic tardiness, explain that your company keeps timesheets for a reason. Spell out potential future discipline, including termination. If the employee’s lack of punctuality continues after the talk, then you might want to think about drafting your first employee write-up.

3. Consider Adjusting Their Schedule

How do you get employees to be on time? Accommodate your late employee if he or she performs well otherwise. Sometimes, a manager must display the ability to adapt. If you have a great employee that shows up five minutes late every day, consider a flexible work schedule. Maybe set a 5-minute range as the start time and end time to alleviate tardiness.

Perhaps you have an excellent worker who always shows up 10 minutes late on Wednesdays. In such a case, you should speak with the employee to determine why Wednesdays seem to create an issue. If you discover a cause that proves difficult to remediate, such as a family obligation, think about putting together a special schedule that accounts for it.

Finally, you might suggest that a particularly trustworthy employee work from home part of the time. Self-motivated, accountable workers often see an uptick in productivity and job satisfaction while working remotely. If you decide to employ this method, make sure you track an employee’s production leading up to the implementation of remote work so you can compare.

4. Try Soft Motivations - Set the Example Yourself

If you track employee hours and discover an attendance issue, you need to know how to motivate employees to be on time. And, setting the example yourself serves as one of the best ways to do that. Spending valuable work hours on an employee’s time management skills can help; but, ultimately, you need to be the change you want to see in the office.

There’s a reason a boss showing up to work first and leaving last is a cliche: It works! If your employees see that you genuinely care about the company and your job, then it increases the perceived value of their own positions. They feel like they contribute to something of importance and appreciate the leadership of a manager who always makes himself or herself available.

This technique does not guarantee perfect attendance for managers pondering over the question, “How do you get employees to be on time?” But, it does have a proven track record of making a noticeable difference in employee punctuality. Besides, you wouldn’t deign to hold your employees accountable for something you could stand to work on yourself, would you?

5. Try Hard (Direct) Motivations

Direct motivations relate to the immediate workload of an employee. By contrast, indirect motivations appeal to the emotions or finances of a worker and can hurt production. Direct motivations are split into three categories:

  • Play
  • Purpose
  • Potential
Let’s take a look at all three individually.

The play motivation results from organizational efforts to make the work itself more fun. Examples related to time management could include singing or ringing a bell after arriving at work. Or, you could turn attendance into some sort of game for your employees to play. Making an attempt to instill the play motivation might serve as the most successful form of motivation available.

The purpose of motivation stems from an appreciation of common or individual goals. For the employee, the work may not seem fun, but the end result drives performance. Ensure your employees know what a project’s purpose is and explain how maintaining consistent work hours helps meet that purpose. How do you get employees to be on time? Clarity of purpose.

The potential motivation appeals to an employee’s sense of personal or professional advancement. Belief in a larger ideological or social movement is also how to motivate your employees to be on time through potential motivation. Maybe the result of a project doesn’t interest a worker, but the overarching company vision pushes the employee to perform.

6. Increase Morale

Increasing the overall morale of your entire workforce helps employees adhere to set work hours. If you track employee hours and notice a problem with your team’s attendance, you can increase morale by creating incentives, treating all workers equally, and improving working conditions.

If you're wondering how to motivate employees to be on time, consider unveiling a new incentives program for your employees if you detect issues with time management. You can offer gift cards, cash, or paid vacation days to entice your staff to show up on time. Make sure the rules of the incentives program are clear and understood by your employees. How do you get employees to be on time? You bribe them.

Sometimes, morale suffers because some employees notice that a manager has a favorite worker. Remaining mindful of this fact and striving to stay impartial can go a long way towards maintaining a punctual staff. Make it clear that you will hold everyone accountable to the same attendance rules and stick to it.

One often-overlooked factor in team morale is working conditions. Maybe one employee feels freezing while sitting below the air conditioner vent all day. Perhaps another worker feels melancholic because of low lighting in the corner of the room. Check with your employees to ensure they feel comfortable because they can go days or even weeks without complaining.

7. Discipline Is Okay

If you’ve tried all of the above methods on how to get your employees to be on time, you may need to resort to disciplinary action. Most managers try their best to avoid these steps because the many available alternatives appeal to their desire to accomplish perfect attendance in a positive way. But, if an employee doesn’t respect company work hours, discipline can help.

One way to discipline a tardy employee involves docking his or her pay. Money represents a major motivating factor; and, in some cases, it serves as the primary factor. Give a warning to a late worker to put him or her on notice that the next time it happens, it will come out of the paycheck. For at least half of all employees, this is enough to turn the situation around.

Many managers who ask how do you get employees to be on time feel forced into disciplinary action based on a worker’s chronic tardiness. Start things off with a verbal warning. If that doesn’t work, give the employee a written warning. If that fails, it’s time to draft official writeups and make notes in the employee’s file.

Managers who track employee hours and realize that time management issues represent a serious threat to productivity may wish to use the ultimate disciplinary action: termination. If you conclude that termination serves as the best remedy to your situation, make sure you comply with applicable laws to avoid litigation.

8. Track Time and Attendance Efficiently

If you experience difficulty getting your employees to show up on time, consider a time tracking app. Time tracking software has improved significantly over the past several years, adding much-needed updates and new features. Plus, a time clock app offers a low-cost, time-saving option if you’re looking to hold your employees accountable for tardiness.

IDEAblox presents an especially enticing option for managers facing time management issues. It’s a small business app designed to maximize your staff’s efficiency and accountability. It will maintain order within your company and offers an easy, reliable method for planning your schedules. It also simplifies the monitoring of employee attendance and vacation time.

With IDEAblox, it’s just one click to clock in or out. It also produces instant payroll reports so managers can go back to managing instead of crunching numbers. The In & Out Board provides real-time status updates on your employees’ attendance. And, managers can grant and limit access to various features on an individual basis.

Offices with time management problems caused by organizational issues should see a significant improvement by digitizing and centralizing attendance data. The ability to set up paid time off by a simple employee request and manager acceptance makes payroll a snap. It’s a helpful tool for businesses trying to make their workers respect company time.


Dealing with tardy employees can exhaust managers wondering how to get employees to show up on time. Managers that haven’t experienced this before or don’t have the tools to effect meaningful change may be lost on how to motivate employees to be on time. Hopefully, you now have a proper answer to the question, “How do you get employees to be on time?”

If you haven’t decided which method best serves your purposes, try a holistic approach.

Start with positive enforcement. Make work fun, so employees want to come to work. Sign up for IDEAblox as a sign to your employees that they will be held accountable. It will also provide extra clarity to both managers and employees regarding time spent working in the office. Finally, if all else fails, then resort to discipline.

Discover whether IDEAblox represents the right solution for your small business. Register today for a free 14-day trial and see if it helps you run a tighter ship.

Try us, you and your staff will love our time clock app.

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