Survey Says: A Zebra Made Me Late to Work

Mar 6 2014 - Workplace Policies - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

Usually when a person is running late, there’s a frantic phone call to a supervisor with a message about traffic being terrible or a mix-up at day care.

Some people had better reasons for being late, according to employers who participated in a new CareerBuilder survey.

The most common reason given by employees for being tardy is traffic (39 percent), followed by lack of sleep (19 percent), problems with public transportation (8 percent), bad weather (7 percent) and dropping the kids off at day care or school (6 percent).

Employers also shared some of the most memorable excuses they received from employees who were running late:

  • Employee claimed a zebra was running down the highway and held up traffic (turned out to be true)
  • Employee woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from his home
  • Employee’s cat got stuck in the toilet
  • Employee couldn’t eat breakfast – he ran out of milk for cereal and had to buy some before getting ready for work
  • Employee was late to work because he fell asleep in the car when he got to work
  • Employee accidentally put superglue in her eye instead of contact lens solution, and had to go to the emergency room
  • Employee thought Halloween was a work holiday
  • Employee said a hole in the roof caused rain to fall on the alarm clock and it didn’t go off
  • Employee was watching something on TV and really wanted to see the end
  • Employee forgot that the company had changed locations
  • Employee got a hairbrush stuck in her hair
  • Employee was scared by a nightmare

Nearly one quarter of employees (23 percent) admit to being tardy at least once a month on average, according to the survey, with 15 percent admitting to arriving late at least once a week.

The survey also explored employer attitudes toward tardiness:

  • 35 percent said an employee was fired for tardiness;
  • 48 percent said employees are expected to be on time every day;
  • 34 percent say they allow employees to be late every once in a while, as long as tardiness doesn’t become a pattern; and
  • 18 percent said they don’t care how employees manage their time, just that they get their work done well.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder in late 2013, and included a representative sample of 3,008 full-time, private sector workers and 2,201 hiring managers and HR professionals across industries and company sizes.

Shane Peterson, HRWatchdog Editor

CalChamber members can visit the HR Library’s Absenteeism and Tardiness page for detailed information.

Leave a Comment