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Survey Finds More Employees are Running Late to Work

CareerBuilder is out with a new survey that reveals the most outrageous excuses for running late to work, and employees are throwing out some real whoppers!


But that's the not the best part of the survey, IMHO. No, the best part of the survey asked more than 6,000 U.S. employees and hiring/HR managers how often they arrive late to work, and the results reveal that we're running late more often!

More than one-quarter surveyed (29%) admitted to showing up late at least once a month -- a 4% increase over last year! A full 16% of those surveyed, meanwhile, admit to being late to work at least once a week, which is a 3% increase over last year. (If you work with the chronically-late colleague, then here's the post for you.)

What is going on here? Why are more employees running late work? Well, I have a few working theories, and here they are in no particular order:

1. Employees are always on call. Always being "on" thanks to technology can lead to burn out, which can lead employees to wander into work a little bit late. They're tired and feeling understaffed! After all, if they were up until midnight responding to "urgent" emails that couldn't wait until morning, then why should they show up right at 8 a.m. sharp? I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying what is.

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2. Being "late" depends on the job. Who is clocking in late, exactly? If you work in outside sales, for example, your job is by nature more time flexible compared to the office administrative assistant who must be on the clock right on time. If the administrative assistant keeps saying the outside salesperson is "late," is it true? Bottom line: Some jobs are time-based while others are more project based, and everyone needs to understand the difference.

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3. Younger employees are changing the workflow. New generations entering the workforce are forcing a re-examination of what it means to be "late." If you can text a client from the Starbucks drive-thru on your way to work, then why do you need to be sitting at your desk to do the same thing? Work can happen pretty much anywhere now, so managers must become thoughtful project managers instead of reactive clock watchers.

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4. The Casual Workday. Casual Friday is every day now, much to the chagrin of our consistently well-dressed colleagues. We've loosened our workplace dress codes, which inevitably means the office clock will loosen its tie over time, too. Running late is also a sign of looking busy, which is the goal of the social-media enabled professional. Think of it as being fashionably late.

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5. Management. Managers can set a poor time management example, too. If the boss is consistently late, then why should employees always be on time? It seems only fair in the tech-enabled 21st Century. Employees pay very close attention to what managers do, and over time it will reflect in how they punch the clock. So make sure you're not contributing the the overall office lateness problem, managers.

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6. Life happens. From traffic to daycare drop-offs to waiting on hold for 30 minutes to take care of life's basics, employees have a lot on their plate these days. I'm not making excuses, I'm simply saying that our work status can be complicated by the cable guy who said he'd show up two hours ago but isn't here yet. Sigh.

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7. How lateness correlates to professionalism is changing. It used to be that running even a minute late was considered highly unprofessional, but attitudes are changing (see Tip #4). Sure, our "noon" working lunch started at 12:10 while we waited for everyone to arrive (cough), but we got a lot done! Just how rude it is to leave a fellow professional waiting these days (and for how long, exactly) is a survey whose time has come.

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I always try to show up on time, but I find myself generally very forgiving if the other person is running a little bit late. In fact, if the other person is running slightly late, then it gives me a few minutes to gather my thoughts and/or catch my breath. As long as the other person lets me know they're actually on their way, it's all good. It's all in how you look at it, I guess. Okay, I'll let you get back to watching the clock now.

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