Night owls beware: Showing up late to work—even if the job's getting done—doesn't fly with most executives.

Only one in 10 CFOs in an Accountemps survey said they are OK with tardiness only if productivity doesn't suffer.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said coming in late on occasion isn't a problem unless it becomes a pattern.

The rest (43%) believe workers should arrive on time so others can rely on them during set hours.

Accountemps conducted a separate survey of office workers to get their thoughts on the importance of showing up on time. Among the findings:

  • Imperfect timing—Fifty-eight percent of workers said they are occasionally late to work. Seven percent admitted they are tardy every day.
  • Old school etiquette—Fifty-four percent of workers ages 55 and over are never late to work, compared to 36% of those 35 to 54 and 23% of respondents 18 to 34.
  • Downside of delays —Forty-three percent of respondents said their productivity has suffered because a colleague arrived late to work.

Financial executives have heard it all when it comes to excuses for tardiness by workers. While the saying "better late than never" usually rings true, these excuses make one wonder:

  • "I drove to my old job out of habit."
  • "I thought I was still on vacation."
  • "I had nothing to wear."
  • "I thought it was Saturday."

Then there were those who were delayed by "hairy" situations:

  • "My hair got caught in a fan."
  • "I super-glued my eye thinking it was contact solution."
  • "Geese chased me on my way to the car."

Some find it easier to blame others:

  • "My cat delivered its litter of kittens."
  • "Someone spilled their coffee all over me on the way to work."
  • "I was stuck in an elevator with a kid that pushed the buttons for all the floors."

These next excuses appeared a bit "fishy."

  • "A truck full of fish flipped over on the highway."
  • "My dog ate my car keys."
  • "I got locked in the gas station restroom and had to wait for someone to get me out."

"Perception is reality," says Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps.

"Right or wrong, showing up to work late can cause people to question your commitment."

Steinitz also cautioned, "Just because you haven't been reprimanded for arriving late doesn't mean it's gone unnoticed.

"Even if you're staying longer and putting in the same hours as others, your manager will still remember if you don't show up when you are supposed to."


About the Research: The surveys were developed by Accountemps and conducted by independent research firms. It includes responses from more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and more than 1,000 workers age 18 and older who work in an office environment in the United States.

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