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Who Is Late to Work and Why?

Topics: Current Events

In a recent self-reported survey, 19 percent of Americans admitted to being late for work at least once per week, if not more often — that is almost one in five working people. Forty-eight percent, or just under half, claimed to never be late for work. The question is, who are the chronically late folks, and why do they have so much trouble getting into the office?

(Photo Credit: Jlhopgood/Flickr)

Who Is Late For Work?

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The data from the poll breaks down working Americans into four groups: 

  • ages 18-34; 
  •  ages 34-54; 
  • ages 55+; and 
  • all ages together.

The 18-34 group seems to be most guilty of showing up late for work, or at least admitting showing up late for work. Only 38 percent of the 18-34 group claimed they were never late for work, compared to 52 percent of the 34-55 group and 55 percent of the eldest group of workers.

Maybe it is a generational thing; showing up late for work is one of the five big mistakes that millenials make, according to blogger Sydney Hafen at Core24. However, there are also intrinsic problems with self-reported surveys. In order to interpret many self-reported surveys, we must trust the honesty of the subject. Even if the subject is being honest, he may have difficulty separating what he wants to be true from what is true. For example, if I believe it is very bad to be late, and I make a regular effort to be on time, I am more likely to not report that I am occasionally late.

One trend that showed in people’s answers to this survey is that employees are generally more cautious about tardiness than key decision-makers at small and medium companies. It seems that managers consider late to be more than 15 minutes late, but workers may define “late” as five or more minutes after start time.

Why Are People Late to Work?

According to YouGov, the biggest threat to punctuality is traffic, with 41 percent of respondents claiming this is why they are late. Bad weather is also mentioned as a cause for tardiness by 28 percent of respondents.

Thirty-two percent of survey respondents admitted that they were late simply because there are no consequences for being late at their place of employment. That answers my third question above. Oversleeping was a reported cause for tardiness in about 28 percent of respondents.

Among parents with children in the house, a full 43 percent of parents claim to be late due to issues getting their family up and ready for the day.

The bottom line is there are many reasons Americans are late to work, from oversleeping to getting stuck in a snow storm. Occasional lateness probably won’t affect your career, but a pattern tells your colleagues that your time is more important than theirs.

Tell Us What You Think

How often are you late to work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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