We look at the importance of good timekeeping for creating and retaining the right impression. Alex Miller writes
It may not seem like being a few minutes late every day is having a considerable impact at your place of work, but it more than likely is having a definite knock-on effect – and your colleagues may even come to resent you, either consciously or unconsciously.
Being regularly late is also extremely likely to tarnish your reputation, regardless of the quality of work you are producing, which in turn could affect your long-term job and promotion prospects.
Time management is even more important in accountancy compared to many other professions, of course, where it forms part of the training and where schedules are built in to jobs. Time management is a basic mechanism of business.
What has to be done, when it has to be done and why it has to be done should all be obvious. You understand contract times and stipulations. You understand the laws for reporting dates and how to organise your work in time frames.
'Timekeeping is important because it demonstrates your commitment and reliability, whether it is for a job interview, a business lunch or work each morning,' says Nikki Turberville, manager at Michael Page Financial Service.
'By properly managing your time, you will undoubtedly feel less stressed or rushed and will be able to perform tasks more efficiently.'
Joss Collins, a financial services specialist at Venn Group, adds: 'Your colleagues are likely to develop a negative perception of you and your work if you’re regularly late, and you’re likely to find that people will rely on you less and less to undertake important projects if they don’t think you’ll be able to manage your time effectively.'
Effective time management is important, as it will increase your productivity, which is beneficial for employers, and professionals themselves.
Employers prefer individuals who are able to proactively complete their tasks by the allocated deadline. Professionals who are able to produce high quality work in a timely manner are likely to be more successful in their roles.
'Timekeeping is essential for trainees to master when they start out in their careers, and this is especially important in accountancy and finance,' says Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half UK.
'During the year, there are a variety of peaks and troughs with changing levels of workflow, particularly around tax season, budgeting and reporting periods.'
Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, concurs: 'Timekeeping as an accountant is essential, often deadlines are mandatory and failure to meet these can have a legal or financial impact on the business.
'Working in practice where time billing is applied means that timekeeping is particularly important to ensure clients are charged accurate fees based on working time.
'When we speak with accountants who are looking for a new job, we look for examples of effective time management and timekeeping skills as this shows an understanding of cost-effectiveness and commercial awareness, both desirable characteristics for the best accountants in practice and business.'
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. Research constantly finds that no one likes being late as it makes him or her feel guilty – but this feeling can have a negative impact on workplace performance in the longer term.