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Employers share most outrageous excuses employees gave for coming in late in CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey

Cat hiccups, a disgruntled roommate and a governor’s phone call are among this year’s most unusual excuses employees gave for being tardy, according to a new CareerBuilder study. Sixteen percent of workers reported they arrive late to work once a week or more, up from 15 percent last year. Twenty-seven percent of workers arrive late to work at least once a month, up from 26 percent last year. The nationwide survey was conducted between November 9 and December 5, 2011 by Harris Interactive¬© among more than 7,000 U.S. workers and 3,000 employers across industries and company sizes.

While employers are more flexible about work schedules and start times today, excessive tardiness can have serious consequences. Over one-third (34 percent) of employers said they have terminated an employee for being late.

“Punctuality – or lack thereof – can impact how your commitment, reliability and performance are perceived by your employer,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “One of the best ways to make sure you get to work on time is to get organized and plan ahead. Lay out whatever you’ll need for the workday the night before, plan to be at the office early, account for expected commute delays and eliminate distractions in your morning routine.”

Traffic, sleep schedules and weather conditions are the top three causes for late arrivals to the office, according to workers:

Traffic – 31 percent of workers

Lack of sleep – 18 percent

Bad weather – 11 percent

Getting kids to school or daycare – 8 percent

Other common reasons for tardiness included public transportation delays, pets, spouses, watching TV and Internet usage.

When asked for examples of the most outrageous excuses employees provided for being late, hiring managers shared the following:

Employee’s cat had the hiccups.

Employee thought she had won the lottery (she didn’t).

Employee got distracted watching the TODAY Show.

Employee’s angry roommate cut the cord to his phone charger, so it didn’t charge and his alarm didn’t go off.

Employee believed his commute time should count toward his work hours.

Employee claimed a fox stole her car keys.

Employee’s leg was trapped between the subway car and the platform (turned out to be true).

Employee said he wasn’t late because he had no intention of getting to work before 9:00 a.m. (his start time was 8:00 a.m.)

Employee was late because of a job interview with another firm.

Employee had to take a personal call from the state governor (turned out to be true).

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