Coping with the chronically late employee

I don't know if anyone caught the Dear Abby column where an employee writes about his right to come in late each day to work. One of my consultants forwarded the column to the team because, in our line of work, it has become the new norm.

The employee made several points:
• It's none of the boss's business why he/she is coming to work late each day.
• He/she doesn't ask the boss what he is doing when the boss is not there.
• How is it legal to be asked why he/she is late for work?
• He/she likes to stay out late and needs to sleep in — isn't that the right of every American?
• The company should be thanking him/her for sleeping in so that he/she can function better when arriving at work.
• The company should be thanking rather than disciplining him/her.

Now you would think this is all a big joke. Well, my staff and I are here to tell you that this is no joke. A growing number of employees believe they are entitled to come and go as they see fit. Their work time and personal time is intertwined and it's their personal time that has priority. Every employer should understand this and it's the company that should conform to the employees' demands.

In my opinion, employers should not accept this egomaniacal behavior. What this type of workforce needs is to be taught — in areas where we have never had to teach before.

The workforce needs to know that:
• The company sets the hours of operation.
• The boss has the right to expect employees to show up on time.
• The boss does not want to know your personal business, he/she just wants you to understand how the business operates.
• The employee has a responsibility to follow the rules.
• It is not an American right to come and go as you please and not follow the rules.
• Where there are rights, comes responsibilities.
• The employer is thanking the employee for services by paying wages.

To some, this all might sound dumber than dumb. However, I encourage all employers to gain insight and understand workforce deficits and plan accordingly.

Although some of these employees are probably the product of participation awards, please do not think this problem is millennial-exclusive. Long-tenured employees are infamous for entitled behavior. Both groups may feel they should be rewarded for just showing up.

Many researchers believe social media as contributing to the problem. It's shocking how much these media have influenced selfish behavior.

Social mediums enhance the focus on personal wants and needs. Studies are showing that frequent texters are less reflective. People who take selfies have shallower relationships. Watching reality TV encourages self-absorption. One study showed social media immediately increases narcissism.

Here are some tips that may help combat narcissistic behavior and communicate business wants and needs:
• Communicate company and team success instead of individual achievement. Talk to employees about how their role collectively achieved success instead of saying "you're the best ____ in the company."
• Improve onboarding with clear expectations and a personal session regarding rules.
• Continue this process throughout evaluations, performance improvement plans or during discipline. The employee from the column needs to be told, "We expect you to arrive at 9:00 a.m. every day."
• Provide unpredictable rewards focusing on company or team success.
• Conversely, discipline bad behavior, each and every time. Three times and the person in the column should be out.

Implementing these steps may help but there may be times when nothing works. There are many forces working against the employer. The employer's only hope is to be prepared and to create an atmosphere of cohesion and accountability.

If the tardy employee fails to understand, that person can be late to the Unemployment office.