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It’s no secret that employers expect their employees to be to work on time, but they also realize that being late or missing work is inevitable and happens to the best of us. Heck, even your boss and boss’ boss have been known to be late, too. We’re all guilty of accidentally sleeping in on occasion, and then there are the circumstances beyond our control: bad traffic, icy roads, sick kids, getting sick from said sick kids. One thing’s for sure, though: if you’re going to be late or are unable to come to work, it’s important to give your supervisor a heads up.  

Call As Soon As You Can

Sure, you could try to tiptoe in and slide into your workstation as though no one will notice. But honesty is always the best policy, and your manager will appreciate knowing that you’re running late or unable to come in to work. Depending on your role, they may use that heads up to fill in for you until you arrive so production isn’t held up. Or, you can fill your boss in as to where you left off from the day before and address any important tasks that need to be done in your absence.

“Calling when you’re going to be late or unable to make it into work is just common courtesy, not only to your boss, but to your co-workers who rely on you to get a certain job done,” says WSI Senior Account Manager, John Johnstone. “Not calling is considered a no-call-no-show, which can result in termination and being ineligible to work for WSI on future assignments. That’s something we want to avoid as much as we can.”

So, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone as soon as you know for sure that you’re going to be late. Leave a message if they don’t answer and follow up with a text or email. If all else fails, call your WSI staffing coordinator so they’re aware and can relay the message for you.

Be Clear and Brief

Apologize, give a quick reason why you’re running late, and let your boss know what time they can expect you to arrive. Skip the elaborate detail – no one needs to know the specifics of your son’s food poisoning episode. It’s perfectly fine to say that you had to find alternate care for a sick child and will be in by 9 am at the latest. “Mornings can be hectic in the workplace, so keeping it short and sweet allows little disruption to everyone’s daily workflow,” Johnstone advises.

Offer to Make Up the Time

Offer to stay late or come in early the next day to compensate for the minutes or hours lost. If another employee had to cover some of your responsibilities, offer to do the same for that person when they’re in a similar situation. If that’s not an option, at least offer to buy them a coffee or lunch as a thank-you. The goal here is to demonstrate that you appreciate their flexibility in your time of need.

Be Sincere

Go to your supervisor as soon as you arrive and offer a sincere apology for being late. Thank them, and your co-workers, for their understanding and for having your back when you were down for the count with man-flu.

Don’t Make It A Habit

Occasionally being late or missing work is to be expected – don’t stress out. But don’t let it become a frequent habit. “Being late affects your entire team and can disrupt workflow, especially when it happens several times a week or month,” says Johnstone. “We can be accommodating to a certain point, but it’s ultimately up to our associates to be a responsible, punctual employee that everyone can count on.”

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