showing up late excuses

Oh, yes. The survey gods have smiled down upon us once again. 

A dozen HR professionals and hiring managers out of a poll of 2,201 shared excuses they’ve heard from employees arriving late to work that are so horrible, they’re awesome.

These were the crown jewels of the survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the surveying masters at CareerBuilder:

  1. Zebra congestion. Employee claimed a zebra running down the highway held up traffic (turned out to be true).
  2. Rough night. Employee woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from his home.
  3. Feline shenanigans. Employee’s cat got stuck in the toilet.
  4. Couldn’t make breakfast. Employee ran out of milk for cereal and had to buy some before getting ready for work.
  5. Cozy parking. Employee was late to work because he fell asleep in the car when he got to work.
  6. Temporary blindness. Employee accidentally put superglue in her eye instead of contact lens solution, and had to go to the emergency room (wonder if she drove herself).
  7. Free candy = national holiday. Employee thought Halloween was a work holiday.
  8. Roofing issues. Employee said a hole in the roof caused rain to fall on the alarm clock and it didn’t go off.
  9. The suspense was brutal. Employee was watching something on TV and really wanted to see the end.
  10. Short-term memory loss. Employee forgot that the company had changed locations.
  11. Tangled. Employee got a hairbrush stuck in her hair.
  12. Boogeyman paid a visit. Employee was scared by a nightmare.

Traffic No. 1 excuse overall

Those offbeat excuses aside, most employees stick to convention when giving reasons for their tardiness. In addition to HR and hiring pros, the survey also polled 3,008 full-time employees.

And the employee portion of the survey found these to be the most common reasons employees say they’re late:

  • Traffic (39%)
  • Lack of sleep (19%)
  • Problems with public transportation (8%)
  • Bad weather (7%), and
  • Dropping the kids off at daycare or school (6%).

Just how often are employees whipping these excuses out?

Nearly one-quarter (23%) say they’re late at least once a month, and 15% admit they arrive late at least once a week.

The consequences for committing such offenses?

Only 35% of employers say they’ve fired a worker for tardiness, and another 34% say they try to work with employees — allowing them to arrive late once in a while as long as it doesn’t become a pattern.

And nearly one in five (18%) of employers don’t care how employees manage their time as long as the work gets done.

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