In The Workplace

I’m the human resource (HR) manager of a medium-sized, 10-year-old company. Our work schedule is between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. every day. Recently, we received some suggestions from employees, ask for a grace period of 15 minutes before being considered late, similar to the practice in other companies. This is due to the lack of transport or road congestion during rush hour, among other issues. What do you think? — Rainbow Connection.

My brief answer is no. In fact, it’s a terrible idea. Even if one thousand companies observe a grace period, say from five up to 15 minutes, it doesn’t mean that they’re correct. You may even worsen the tardiness rate in your organization. Take a hard look at this suggestion.

HR professionals must take into consideration the mutual interest of both labor and management if they benefit the whole organization. This requires a balancing act to produce a fair and reasonable judgment, considering all the circumstances.

Take a look at your tardiness rate. Check your records and find out its impact on company operations. How much money is the company losing in terms of productivity? How many employees are habitually tardy? Are they the same people asking for the grace period?

What department or division has the greatest number of tardy workers? This question is important as it reflects on the management style that the line leaders are providing to their workers.

If you have a number of employees violating the tardiness policy, all the more reason to be stricter on attendance. Cite the violators right away but allow them due process. The team leaders, line supervisors and managers must be the ones to correct the problem because they’re closest to the situation.

By and large, it’s not a good idea to reinforce the idea of Filipino time. There’s no need for anyone, least of all HR professionals, to make excuses for our cultural folly.

The challenge is to come up with irrefutable reasons that employees will find easy to understand and accept. Being an HR manager, you must provide dynamic solutions to help the workers avoid tardiness. And no, I don’t recommend giving out a perfect attendance award.

Why reward people who are required to report for work on time and every day? If you missed my article on the perfect attendance award, check the archives of this paper. Rediscover my article, “What’s wrong with the perfect attendance award?” published on March 1, 2019.

So, let’s explore the following solutions:

One, consider the nature of your company’s operations. In a business process outsourcing or factory set-up, you can’t simply apply a grace period; even a five-minute allowance could mean hundreds of thousands in lost productivity. It is easy to imagine situations where operations can’t start on time when one or two workers are tardy.

Try to anticipate the negative effect on the morale of other employees who report on time every day.

Two, allow flextime for selected workers. Require applicants for flextime to justify their need for it. It helps if the applicant has demonstrated above-average work performance over the past three years. If you approve their application, implement a temporary scheme, say two months at most, while you monitor the overall impact on business operations.

The main thing is that all workers must be present during core hours, considering the number of customers or the production timeline. If your work schedule is from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., require all flextime workers to be physically present in the office or factory anytime from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. That 30-minute difference is better than a grace period.

Three, offer an interest-free motorcycle loan. Once again, give this loan only to those with excellent work performance over the past three years or longer. This sends the message that people with consistent high performance will always enjoy preference. Require the worker to put up some equity so the company need not offer a 100% loan.

Four, arrange for a transport service. This should not lead to additional cost on the part of the company. Perform a survey of your employees to find out how many of them commute along certain routes. If the number is substantial enough for a bus company or shuttle service to undertake special trips, arrange for a pick-up service and require the workers to pay their usual fares.

An enterprising worker may even step in to provide a vehicle. Explore that possibility, but make sure to follow the relevant government regulations.

Last, allow a hybrid of in-person office work and work-from-home. For example, do in-person office work three times a week or every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with Tuesday and Thursday reserved for work-from-home. You can start with a trial period while you review its implications on work operations.


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