How Do You Handle Time Clock Watchers?

Are Time Clock Watchers Loyal, Dedicated Employees?

In today’s episode: We discuss a question from Mark on how to handle Time Clock Watcher Employees. Are they loyal, dedicated employees? Or are they a cancer that needs to go?


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Episode 76:  How Do You Handle Time Clock Watchers?

Welcome back to the Local Small Business Coach Podcast. I am your coach, Tammy Adams.

Today we are going to take a look at a question from Mark on how to handle employees that are time clock watchers.




Hey everyone, for those of you that have employees, I’m curious, do you have any clock watchers? You know the ones, they stand at the time clock until it clicks exactly on the time to start and then at the end of the day, they are either standing there again waiting for the clock to tick or they are abandoning tasks or customers to make sure they don’t work a minute past the time they are supposed to get off.  These folks can be very frustrating.

Today’s question comes from Mark. Mark has a great question around how to handle these clock watchers… Let’s see what he asked.


I have a question I’m wondering if you could help me with? I’m extremely frustrated and wondering how on earth do you handle those employees that will walk off the line and leave customers hanging all to clock out and leave exactly when their shift is up? I have a few of these people and they are irritating the crap out of me. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I’m tired of my customers being left hanging. What advice do you have, thanks, Mark


Hey Mark, believe it or not, this is actually more common than you think. You don’t have to be a small business owner to struggle with this one. I think leaders and managers have struggled with this since the time clock was invented.

The first thing that we all need to understand is that times have changed. The days of putting the company first has disappeared for most folks. The vast majority of people no longer feel obligated to give more than they have to. While the old mentality may have been that somebody lives to work, the new mentality is people work to live. Their personal life far exceeds any loyalty to their company or place of work.

Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that they don’t give you 100% during the hours that they’re working. It just means that they are not going to continue to give up their life for their company. They watched their parents give up their life for many, many, many years to their company.



I was one of these folks who worked as I’ve mentioned for 22 years at mine. I did it, not because they told me to, I did because I loved working. I worked my ass off. I loved being there. But when I look back now, I realize how much I lost or gave up during that time. I didn’t get to travel as much as I wanted, I didn’t take all the vacations I could have. I didn’t get to explore and see anything that was out there. Now at 50, I sometimes wonder what could’ve been had I not worked so hard. I sometimes wonder if I could go back in time, would I have done things differently? Odds are no, I am passionate about what I do. Odds are I’d do it all over again. But now I do better understand those that want to clock out and get on with their life. They saw fools like me give up our lives and they just don’t want to do it.



In the past, people wanting to leave exactly on the hour, used to drive me nuts. And to be honest, they probably still would because, you can’t help but think they are not looking out for the best interest of your company but more like what’s best for them.

What bothers me more is not that people want to leave exactly at 2 o’clock, no, what bothers me more, are the people that stand there for five minutes before the clock strikes the top of the hour before they check out. These folks are the bigger concern since they aren’t even making sure they give you all work you are paying them for.



Like I said earlier though, not all clock watchers are bad employees. Many give you 100% when they are there. Mark, the key is, you need to identify if these folks give you 100% between those clock punches or are they milking their entire day. This will require two different approaches.

The bigger issue becomes, do they view this as just a job and just a paycheck.? During those four, five or eight hours that you have them working , are they’re just going through the motions? They either lack motivation or they just don’t care. It could be you hired the wrong people or maybe they’re not even trained.


See it isn’t about when they show up or when they go home.

It’s about what you get in between those two punches. So, I recommend that you focus here. What is their performance like in between clocking in and clocking out.

Are they giving you all they have during that time and before they run out the door? I would have a conversation with them that isn’t so much about being mad at them for leaving on the dot, as much is having a conversation saying, hey I am okay with you wanting to leave at the end of your shift. However, what I’m not okay with is, you leaving the customer abruptly. That you need to make sure that they finish whatever task they are working on or make arrangements for someone else to complete them.

Remember Mark, you need to focus on their performance, the time in between those punches.  Focus on the transition of the customer and of the job duties.  As long as they are giving 100% in between, you have a great employee. You just need to set those clear expectations on transition.

If your problem is the fact that they don’t care between those punches, then you have a much bigger problem. One of which, is to identify if it comes from their attitude, their lack of training or your leadership skills. It is important that you get to the root of why they don’t care  and address these. It might require more training or possibly looking in the mirror and identifying your weaknesses and opportunities as a leader. It also could be your hiring process.



I think we all have opportunity when it comes to how we view time watchers. We need to get used to it because it’s not going to change anytime soon. If anything, it’s going to get worse because the newest generation has a different loyalty then previous generations.

Let me clarify that, it isn’t that they can’t be loyalty, they just don’t have that same blind loyalty that a lot of us had in the past. We were raised to be company people, we were raised to work hard. But yet that loyalty was not always met with loyalty back. So the newest generation come from families where their parents were let go or laid off. So yes, their version of being loyal to a company is different than their parents or previous generations. But that does not mean that they don’t want to do the best job possible. Your job is to focus on how do you get them to give you everything between those time clock punches.


In conclusion I just want to reemphasize something that I said earlier. Mark, if you have a team that just wants to time clock watch, I’d do a team meeting and bring this up. Just  please make sure that you start the conversation saying you are not upset that people want to leave on time. That you can appreciate their love for their off time. However, it is more about how they transition the customers and job duties.  Make sure you are listening to them. What are they saying. Watch their body language. If they sit there with folded arms,  sitting back not engaged, I’m telling you there’s a bigger problem. Your goal is to find out why they don’t care.

Did you hire the wrong people? Are they not getting the leadership they need? Are they not happy? You will want to peel back that onion.  Remember, this isn’t about them clocking in and out. It is about having clear expectations, hiring the right people, training them well and providing great leadership.


Mark, thanks for the question. The key to your problem is shifting it from the time clock watching and switch it to what happens between those two punches.


And as we wrap up this episode I want you to know, that I realize being a local small business owner can be a lonely gig at times. But you don’t have to do it alone. Just know, I’m always here for you.

By the way, If you like what we are taking about, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode, if you love the podcast and what we are talking about, then please leave a 5 star review so other local small business owners know this is a podcast that they can’t miss.

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Meanwhile, I wish you the best in your business and remember: Great Customer Service, coupled with Great business practices will set you on the path to Great Profits!

Bye for now…..



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