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Saunter into a party an hour behind schedule and you’re “fashionably late.” Do the same thing at work and you could be in trouble.
That’s probably why respondents to a recent CareerBuilder survey came up with all sorts of crazy excuses for their tardiness. Standouts in terms of weirdness include “I put petroleum jelly in my eyes,” “I was cornered by a moose,” and “My mother locked me in the closet.”
Business Insider spoke with Rosemary Haefner, the chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, about how to recover from straggling into work late.
She notes that every company is different and sometimes, showing up late isn’t that big of a deal.
“Overall, whether or not you need to address it comes down to company culture,” Haefner told Business Insider. “If everyone is diligently working when you come in late every morning, then you probably stand out. If the occasional late arrival is okay according to your culture and policy, you likely won’t be disciplined.”
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However, if you’re worried, here are some steps you can take to mitigate your tardiness:
1. Call ahead, if you can
“If you know you’re going to be late, the best thing to do is to call the appropriate parties to let them know,” Haefner says. “Then, enlist someone to cover you, if necessary and possible.”
2. Consider the impact of your lateness
Did you miss anything big? If not, it’s probably best to avoid making a huge deal about being late.
“If you were exceptionally late, you may need to move on to an apology letter or email,” Haefner says. “Another reason you may want to choose this option is if your lateness caused a big problem for the company, such as losing a client.”
It never hurts to just say sorry.
“Being late is a part of life, and it’s always polite to apologize when it happens,” Haefner told Business Insider. “Everybody’s human and makes mistakes, so own up to yours and move on.”
If you’re concerned that you’ve really messed up, make the apology in person, instead of over email.
4. Provide an explanation
If you’ve got a legitimate explanation, feel free to use it! Just try to sound like you’re providing an explanation, not making excuses.
5. Make it clear that this isn’t going to become a habit
It might be a good idea to say something along the lines of, ” ‘I know that this company values punctuality, and I will strive to be on time in the future,’ ” says Haefner.
6. Be honest
It might be tempting to make up excuses,
“As a rule of thumb, remember to be honest,” Haefner told Business Insider. “Integrity is what every company wants. When you lie, you break that trust and that will upset an employer even more.”
If you feel like your reasoning is too silly (see: cornered by a moose) or inappropriate for work, then forego making excuses.