Saturday, 26 October 2013

Punctuality in the Workplace

If you have an appointment at, say, 11 a.m., what time do you arrive?

Ten to fifteen minutes ahead of time, five minutes, right on time, a couple of minutes late?

Employers care about punctuality - not just at the job interview (which most people try to be there on time), but when you are an employee too.

From an employers perspective, if they hire you to start work at 9 a.m., they expect you to be arrived, set up and ready to commence work at 9 a.m; not have you arrive at this time.  This might seem like common sense to many people, but as many of the employers reported I worked with while I was Post Placement Support officer too many employees arrived at their start time and by the time the person set themselves up they were not productive for five to fifteen minutes.  And those same employees 'shut down' and packed up so that they could leave spot on finishing time.

From an employees perspective, many people think "I only get paid from 9 a.m." and believe that the set up and pack away part of the tasks is part of the job and therefore done on the 'employers time' not their own. And this is reasonable enough.  But it is a sign the the person is only prepared to do 'what is required' and is not prepared to 'give and take' within the employment relationship.

My own opinion is that under a 'fair's days work for a fair days pay' it is not unreasonable for employers to expect you to be productive, and there is no harm in the employee arriving a few minutes before their start time to settle in and set up so you can commence 'working' at your start work time - and again packing up once you have reached your finish time, so long as your employer gives as well as takes.

For example, if you routinely arrive for an office job fifteen minutes early to enable you to fire up the computer, make yourself a cup of coffee, print out the day's appointment list, and write out a To Do list, so that you can open the office to its customers right on 9 a.m., then you are indeed performing some of your work tasks in your own time.  If down the track you need to leave a few minutes early to go and pick your child up and your employer knows you don't leave early every day, only on the occasions when you really need to, then I would expect that your employer repays some of your 'give' by 'giving' to you in return - a win win situation for you and your employer.  But, if down the track you have been arriving early every day, and staying back ten to fifteen minutes after hours and you need to leave a few minutes early to go and pick your child up and you don't request time off like this very often and then the employer refuses (without good reason), then I would say as an employee you have the right to feel upset.

But too many employees arrived and left work 'right on time' and then when a situation arose where they wanted/needed to leave work a few minutes early, they got upset when the employer refused (usually with good reason). These employees are so focused on their own wants and needs that they are the ones doing all the 'taking' within the employment relationship and not doing enough 'giving'.

From personal experience, the best working environments are ones where there is an (relatively) equal amount of give and take from both the employer and the employee, and neither side ends up nitpicking about the expectations of the other.

What are your thoughts about punctuality in the workplace?  Is your employment relationship lopsided in favour of one of the two parties, or is it based more equally?

Char Mesan