Humor: 5 Completely (Un)Reasonable Ways to Deal with Habitually Late Employees


No one likes getting up early.

We just do it. Because it’s nice to be up in the quiet of the morning, because it’s a productive start of our day, and because we’re adults who must get to work on time in the morning.

But sometimes, we’re late. Things happen. And that’s okay.

But what about those who are always late? How do we deal with them? Surely they’re not bad people—usually being late is their only vice.

Or maybe they’re also a bad dresser, but we can’t send those people to HR simply for their decision to wear orange pants with a brown—*stifled retching*—top.

Here’s what to do if you want to take your habitually late employee problem into your own hands. (And probably get sent to HR afterwards.)

1. Inconspicuously place an empty donut box in her line of sight and tell her how sorry you are that she missed the 8:01am donut party.

Console her by saying, “Whoops! Must’ve been for on-time employees only.”

Make sure you assign a few on-time employees to parade around her cube twice per hour, donut in hand, to gush about how easy it into find a good parking spot when they’re on time.

This ruthless tactic is sure to urge her to examine the donut-shaped hole in her heart for answers on where she went wrong.

You can cease these 8:01 breakfast parties as soon as she catches on and gets the message. Point made, party’s over. No need to continue. (Remember—these parties were NOT for raising employee morale. They were solely for revenge.)

Bonus tip: If many parties go by and she still doesn’t get it, at this point it’s appropriate to leave her a subtle hint by handwriting in jelly filling all over her desk: YOU’RE ALWAYS LATE.

2. Chain up the entrance to her cubicle and lock it shut with a padlock at 8:01. 

Like a strict, no-B.S. mother enforcing curfew on a naughty teenager, this clever hack is a great way to show your late employee you mean business.

Sure, she might be able to duck in and around your handiwork when she shows up bright and not-so-early at 8:50 in the morn, but she’ll definitely wonder what prompted you to padlock her cubicle door. Thus begins the soul search on what she could be doing differently. (Ahem. SHOW UP ON TIME.)

3. When you’re making water-cooler conversation with her, casually and subtly sprinkle “YOU’RE LATE” into the conversation and see if she notices. 

Because this one takes a bit of finesse, we’ve included a few examples to help you out.

Scenario 1

YOU: Wow, would you look at all that snow outside.

EMPLOYEE: It sure is piling up quick!

YOU: You might even say it’s quickly accumYOU’RE-LATE-ing.

Now go wink at yourself in the mirror, because that was smooth as hell.

Scenario 2

YOU: …and so my wife was like, “Oh, Bryan! Didn’t you know you were supposed to pick the kids up from daycare at 5:00 and not 5:05? You’re late!”

EMPLOYEE: Gee, sorry to hear about that, Boss.

YOU: Did you hear what she said? She said, “You’re late!”

EMPLOYEE: Yep, heard that part.

YOU: Here, let me get her on the phone real quick so she tell it like she did the other day.
EMPLOYEE: No really, it’s fi—

YOU [on the phone]: Sharon, honey, tell Sarah what you told me the other day about being late.

Because if Sharon can’t get through to her, then who will?

Scenario 3

EMPLOYEE: Hey there, Boss!


Ah. Subliminal messaging at its finest.

4. Switch all email messaging and spoken correspondence over to “Sarah Time.” 

(Obviously this only works unless you use the name of the lackadaisical soul that is plaguing your office with his or her lateness. Otherwise you will look incredibly mean for aimlessly bullying some poor woman named Sarah.)

Since apparently, to Sarah, 8:00am means 8:30am, let’s switch the whole office over to Sarah Time to let her know that we acknowledge that she’s working on her own personal schedule that cannot be tamed by mere “clocks” and “rules” and “company policy”.

For instance, here’s how you’d write email subject lines from now on:

  • Quarterly reports due by 5:00pm on Friday! (That’s 5:30pm Sarah Time)

Eventually people will catch your drift and you’ll be able to shorthand it like so:

  • All Hands Meeting at 10:00am today! (10:30am ST)

Bonus tip: Whenever she wants to meet up with you, show up 30 minutes late and thoughtfully explain to her, “I’m sorry, I thought we were meeting on Sarah Time.”

Don’t want to give in to resorting to the use of Sarah Time? Then this next tip’s for you:

5. Break into her house and move all the clocks forward 30 minutes. 

And don’t forget all her gadgets!

If she has a daily morning stop—perhaps at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts—be sure to call up the manager and have him change all those clocks, too, just to be safe. He’ll understand.

Do her gadgets have a passcode? Fret not, you sneaky thing. You simply must tell her that you mistakenly flushed your phone down the toilet this morning and need to use hers for an important phone call. And if you don’t like lying, all you must do is flush your phone down the toilet that morning so no one can say you’re not telling the truth.

Dodge her questions about the discrepancy between home time and work time by causing a distraction.

Here is a solid tactic: make ringing noises with your mouth and say, “Uh-oh, that is my phone. It is ringing. I must go.” Then sashay away. (Preferably at a very fast pace, before she has time to say, “Wait, I thought you flushed your phone down the toilet?”)

We’ll end this helpful article simply by saying this: You are so welcome. We just gave you 5 stellar solutions to one of your biggest problems—a habitually late employee—and we’re so glad we could help. What will you do to repay us?

May we suggest a donut party?

Humor, Workplace

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