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Top Excuses For Being Late For Work

Getting stuck in traffic is the most common excuse offered by Irish staff to their bosses when they are running late, according to a new survey by Elephant Smart Business.


The 'heavy traffic' excuse is used by more than one in four tardy Irish employees. Factoring in bus and car troubles, traffic-related woes account for almost half of all the proffered reasons for arriving at work late.

Elephant Smart Business provides live, cloud-based staff management platforms for companies, which includes facilities to send not-passive-aggressive-in-the-slightest text messages to delayed employees, asking them if they had perhaps forgotten to clock on at work.

An investigation of 400 staff replies to this gentle reminder provides the data for Elephant's findings. Of them, 28% blamed traffic; 19% were running behind time because the bus was late and 17% were having car trouble. A sick child was the reason why 15% of employees were late, while the fifth most common response was simply a self-condemning “sorry”.

Linda O'Reilly, co-founder and finance director with Longford-based Elephant Smart Business, says: “Motivation is complicated. For example, if you are regularly ten minutes late, but stay on for an hour extra every night, your boss might be happy, but probably your colleagues won't be. The strange thing is that, after the first few weeks of using our system, very few texts are sent out, because staff realise the importance of time-keeping.”

Reacting to the findings, ISME chief executive Mark Fielding says: “Lateness is a big issue for SMEs. Owners and managers often underestimate the importance of treating everyone equally. Equal treatment is key to a motivated team and helps productivity.”

Some of the problems lateness creates were also helpfully outlined by Arline Watson, director in software solutions with Russell Brennan Keane, which employees can ponder as they watch the seconds tick on their way to work: “Persistent lateness for work can create operational difficulties, including reduced productivity, and can have a direct impact on the morale of employees who are often left to cover the work.

“It is important that businesses have an accurate method of recording working hours to ensure that concerns such as lateness for work are recognised and addressed in a fair and timely manner.”

If all else fails, late employees might still earn the respect of their bosses by opting for brutal honesty. Among the replies that Elephant assessed, one read: “I was out last night and can't get out of bed”. Another said: “I have just got engaged”, while a third read: “My dog is missing”. (13/03/14)

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