A minute late and a job short

Tesla rolls out new attendance policy for hourly workers

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“A minute late and a dollar short” is taking on a whole new meaning at electric car maker Tesla. The company has put in place a new attendance policy that leaders say is “more fair and flexible.”

Here are some of the policy details:

  • Managers can give demerits for showing up 1 minute late for work, or leaving one minute early without permission.
  • The fewer minutes an employee is late, the lower the amount of punishment.
  • If employees rack up a certain number of these demerits, called "occurrences" internally, their employment will be terminated.
  • Newer employees get fewer chances than those with longer tenure.
  • Workers can be required to work overtime on short notice for “critical business needs.” The decision must come from the Vice President level or higher.
  • This policy impacts hourly employees in Tesla factories, call centers, service centers, and roadside assistance groups.

Tesla told CNBC, "Based on employee feedback, we’ve recently updated our attendance policy to be more fair and flexible. We’re appreciative of the hard work by our production teams, and regularly review policies to work for our employees. The policy update has been in the works for nearly two months and is similar to what you would find at other companies.”

The change in the policy comes after Tesla cut its salaried workforce by 9%. That equates to about 4,000 employees. Meanwhile the company continues to increase production of its Model 3 electric sedans. It’s hoped this will help CEO Elon Musk deliver on a promise he made to investors; that the company would be profitable in 2018.

Dealing with Consistent Tardiness

The “work-life balance”: it’s something familiar to every member of the workforce, but with the increase in technology and the blending of personal lives with professional lives, most would say the phrase is outdated. The focus should now be on the “life balance”.

Read The Transformation of Talent Management

That said employees are still going to be late from time to time. Supervisors and managers have heard every conceivable answer as to why an employee is late. Some are acceptable and some aren’t. That can be managed on a case-by-case basis. It’s when it becomes chronic that it has to be dealt with.

So, how do supervisors manage that?

1. They should step in and say something early. Employees that know they can get away with being late are more likely to take advantage of the situation. Managers and supervisors need to bring up the issue early on in the work relationship. By stating that fact that tardiness is not acceptable behavior the first time it happens, it lets the employee know that arriving late to work is just as equally unacceptable.

2. Review the organization’s current tardy policy and if there is not a current policy in place, the HR team, along with managers and supervisors, need to develop a fair policy. Keep in mind that whatever the decision is, it must be consistent across the entire organization. One person should not be allowed to stay late to "make up" the time and then other, similarly tardy employees are disciplined.

3. Identify the trend and communicate with employees who are tardy. Managers and leaders should take employees aside and talk with them privately. They should be asked if they need help with anything or if there is a reason for the repetitive tardiness. Those in charge should let the individual know that they are affecting the overall company productivity and that their team needs them. Reassuring them that they are part of a team and the entire team depends on each member during this process. The employee may not realize the impact they are having on other individuals and how their tardiness affects other individuals’ overall productivity. Discussing with the individuals the implications of their tardiness may be a revelation for the employee.

4. If they are constantly late for a very valid reason, HR, managers, supervisor, and leaders should work with employees to figure out an action plan. Realizing that their manager or leader is not there to punish, but to give them the support and guidance to help them overcome the problem, can give them the encouragement they need to find a solution.

Tracking the Numbers

It is a very real possibility that supervisors and managers may have to terminate an employee because of tardiness. This is why it is important to keep track of numbers.

If tardiness continues to be an issue even after communicating the problem with the employee one-on-one, have the numbers ready to provide ample evidence of the decision to terminate. That does not only include numbers associated with tardiness, but also the data of the number of customers that did not receive help in a timely manner, the missed sales opportunities, or the phone calls that were on hold longer than average because the entire team was not there to do their part.

This may seem like a tedious task, but when being faced with such a negative decision it helps to understand the exact logistics that played into the action being taken.

Balancing Tardiness

To some, being late may seem like a minor issue, and as such can be easily overlooked. To others, like Tesla, time is money. The important thing here is to find that balance in what can be tolerated and what can’t.