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Salaried Employees Policy - Consistently Late or Exiting Early

In a few of our departments (I'm controller of a large local bank) we've started to have a problem of salaried employees being lax about their arrival/departure times. We don't offer flex time because of the demands of our bank, and it's only about 15 to 30 minutes either way. Most people are still getting their time in, making it up on their lunch breaks or the next day. But it's becoming a regular thing across the department. Other than a blanket department wide email, any suggestions on how to reverse the trend?

Answers

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Start at the top. In some cases, employees will model their actions against their Managers. If you have a group of employees that are playing with their time, check the punches of the Manager to see if they are also playing with their time.

Next, be sure you have a policy. Whenever something is not as expected with an employee or group of employees, make sure you have a policy statement. Some things may be considered obvious to you, but if it is not documented, there is wiggle room.

Distribute a complete policy statement regarding work times; and reference state or federal legislation if applicable. It is a common approach of employees to “work through lunch” to make-up time. However, some states require a minimum break, making working through the full hour illegal.

Finally, pardon my directness – does it really matter? What is your threshold? Is the lax behavior 5 to 10 minutes on each side; or is it 30 minutes to an hour?

What is the business impact?

Anonymous
(Controller) |

I guess my biggest concern is that it started with one or two employees and only 5 or 10 minutes, but it seems to be a growing issue. 5 or 10 minutes here or there doesn't matter, but 30 minutes to an hour on a regular basis does begin to add up.

Thanks for your help!

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Few years ago, I had internship at Bank. Those employees working for customer service had to arrive on time. Anyhow, I saw that all others were arriving late.
If the salaried employees are required to work certain hours, there must be a policy for attendance and punctuality.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

If you are trying to change a behavior, try changing a behavior:). Example:

Set the next meeting of your dept to start at a time you know will require late comers to realize they need to be there on time. Make a note of who is ready for the meeting and who is not. Then, after the meeting, approach each latecomer separately and ask them why they were late. A polite and short exchange should get the message across.

A dept wide email may well ruffle feathers of those who arrive on time. It's a shotgun approach where a narrower focus may be better.

Make sure you are on time for work too:)

Philip Russell, CPA
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: FCB Homes
LinkedIn Profile
(Chief Financial Officer, FCB Homes) |

One thing to consider is to have a meeting with not enough chairs for everyone. The people that arrive at the meeting last will have to stand for the meeting. I bet that this changes behaviors.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I completely disagree with Philip's approach. Managing through embarrassment is not managing at all.

Anonymous
(Human Resources Manager) |
Dan Ginn
Title: Human Resources Manager
Company: Italfoods, Inc.
LinkedIn Profile
(Human Resources Manager, Italfoods, Inc.) |

Len makes a good suggestion but I have a different concern. I don't mind if a salaried (exempt) employee arrives 15 or 30 minutes late on occasion so long as the job gets done. What I have a concern with is when an exempt employee acts like a non-exempt employee by reporting on time but also leaving exactly on time each day, nothing less but nothing more.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Dan
Good point!! Depending on the circumstances,one way to try to change this person's behavior (if it became a concern) is by setting up a meeting that will run 15-30mins over that person's normal departure time.Or, give them a task that will take an hour just before end of day and ask for it 8am tomorrow.

Question for you: is the person who watches the clock performing at or above expectations? If they are highly efficient, get the job done and more, so that they can leave on time, is that automatically bad? A good manager will ask, observe, learn before deciding what to do and how.

For me, it should be more of a culture topic to develop among people than a nit which can quickly be seen as micro management.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Dan - sad to say, that is a typical narrow view of an employee and counter-productive.

Len is on the right track. One needs to examine the function and the drivers of the workload of an employee before unequivocally saying they need to be here/there at a given time. Maybe the driver of their workload is the first mail of the day which arrives at 10AM. If they were to report at 9AM, they'd sit around for 30-45 mins. However, if they reported at 9:30, the company wouldn't loose that 30 mins.

If someone has an appointment at 10AM at the other end of town, and its a 35 min drive, do you want them to come to the office and turnaround and just leave (unless they need to take company equipment,etc.)?

The the flip side, why do you assume a salaried (exempt) employee needs to come early or stay late? Len is right. Is there work being accomplished? And if it isn't why?

Why do they need to work extra hours? Maybe there is too much work (which will cause burn-out, a waste of talent and money) or the employee isn't a fit for the job.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Dan - I worked for a CFO once, who would walk around every day at 5:30 through the accounting office taking inventory of who was there. It made a lot of the accountants and other professionals feel as though their time and efforts were never good enough. Thankfully I am not in that environment anymore. But when I was, it was stressful because all exempt employees in accounting we expected to be there regardless of the amount of work.

There are seasons for late nights at the office, like every tax season for public and many corporate accountants. My opinion is that when it turns into a everyday occurrence, it is time for me to re-evaluate my goals for my family and my work.

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

We had some time leak at a prior company that I worked at. While the work was getting done, it became more common to see a rush and a lot of stress near deadlines as people were less focused starting each day. It also can have a significant impact on morale in some cases, especially when people have to walk through a retail area (bank branch entrance) to get to their desks.

The solution where I worked was a reminder staff meeting, done by department, where we reminded people that they had an impact on others, especially clients who wanted to get something done right at the stroke of 8am (or 9am). Overall the reaction was positive and more people became aware of their arrival and departure times. There was also a reminder about the kind of jobs people hold. I worked in theater. While many of us were there in the morning, a lot of our colleagues did not report to work until the mid-afternoon. Understanding the whole picture also helped with cooperation.

I agree with Regis that the focus should be on work done and not time-clocks, however, there is something to be said for consistent policies and having everyone following the same rules.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

In today's work environment where technology keeps us all connected to our jobs and working longer days, companies and managers need to adopt a different philosophy on what constitutes a fair workday. I define "fair" as a day where an individual is able to meet all goals/job requirements and still have a life.

Clearly where a role requires being accessible / available to customers for interactions, a fixed day is more appropriate, but if management faults performing employees coming in 15 minutes late it is *micromanagement*.

Experience has taught me that these same sort of managers are nowhere to be found when an employee is working through lunch, pulling long nights, or working from home.

If employee A needs to drop his or her kids off at school in the morning and arrives 15 minutes late as a result but otherwise performs well and demonstrates commitment and drive to get things done, I have no problem with it.

I will caveat this by saying that Finance does have customers, and if my team is not available to keep business partners satisfied then it becomes an issue.

Anonymous
(Associate) |

I have found that when I track the times the employees work, especially when they get there in the morning, and then show them the cumulative time late, it really gets their attention. For example, an employee may think being 5 minutes late most days is no big deal. When I show them that over the course of 6 months it adds up to 10 hours, they get the picture

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