Economy Loses £9 Billion Per Year due to Workers Arriving Late

Posted on 3 October, 2012 by Kirsten Kennedy

With many businesses pushed to breaking point over the course of the recession, it is hardly surprising that bosses are expecting higher and higher levels of commitment from their employees. Turning up late to work is a huge faux pas at the moment, especially considering the number of extra hours millions of Britons are putting in to their workplace every week.


However, a recent study has shown exactly how much tardiness is costing the economy every year. With around 600,000 employees turning up late each day, the economy is taking a huge hit – in fact, it is estimated that £9 billion is lost every year due to this simple fact.

The study, conducted by Heathrow Express, surveyed 1,000 UK employees in order to better evaluate the working conditions and attitudes of workers in this country. It determined that an average of 590,000 workers show up to their jobs late every day in the UK, causing headaches for both their employers and the economy as a whole.

More than half of the staff members participating in the study admitted to having turned up late for a meeting or other work event on a weekly basis, with 11 per cent theorising that their tardiness had cost their company a potential client. Meanwhile, a further 19 per cent said that their being late had resulted in a meeting going badly wrong for their company.

Each late employee loses an average of 97 minutes of work per month, resulting in a cost of £305 per head for employers. This is money that most businesses cannot afford to burn in the current climate, with trading still struggling to climb and banks being especially reluctant to lend.

Researchers calculated the astronomical £9 billion cost to the economy by using the average UK worker’s hourly pay, employment figures and average number of minutes late to work events per person. This included turning up to the office in the morning, meetings and business lunches with clients.

The excuses for late arrivals to business functions tended to be simple ones, with traffic delays due to road works being the most popular. Public transport delays, unforeseen circumstances such as a family member becoming unwell, bad weather, sleeping in and having had to double back to collect a forgotten item also proved to be popular reasons.

Managing director of Heathrow Express, Keith Greenfield, said; “Time is money and when it comes to making business journeys, punctuality and speed are crucial.”

Unfortunately, it appears that arriving late for work can have a negative impact on the whole working day, even if the worker in question is only a little late. 63 per cent of participants admitted to being affected by stress for a long time after arriving late, while 39 per cent claimed that their guilt caused them to perform badly throughout the day.

Three quarters of those surveyed said that being late for work caused them to feel guilty, with half of the 1,000 participants worried that their poor time keeping would cause colleagues to lose respect for them. It is hardly surprising, then, that the study revealed it takes an average of 49 minutes for people to settle in to the working day following a late arrival.

Dr Cecilia d’Felice, a behavioural psychologist working in conjunction with Heathrow Express on the study, says; “The cost of lateness to the economy is enormous, but potentially even more serious is the detrimental impact it can have on workplace performance, team morale and productivity.

“Encouragingly, no one likes being late as it makes them feel guilty, but this feeling can have a negative impact on workplace performance in the longer term.

“The fact that people admit their own lateness affects the performance of those around them is of concern as the example they set to other members of staff around them is critical.”

Do you often find yourself late for work or work related appointments, like many of the participants in the study? Can you brush off the incident as bad luck or do you tend to stew over the issue for the remainder of the working day?


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