What to do when… you have an employee absence problem

employee absence problemBrady has been with you for 6 months or so, but he’s been either late or absent 5 out of the last 8 Mondays. You get it, you were young once, and there was a pretty good Sunday Night Football game…

But other employees are starting to notice too. You are hearing little comments about “a case of the Mondays”, or a “nice to see YOU today” on the Mondays when he does show up.

Truthfully, you’ve started to avoid setting appointments on Mondays that would involve Brady. This is problematic as he’s involved in all the new business kick-off meetings.

It’s possible that he’s just sick a lot, but you, and the rest of the team, are starting to resent his absence problem. So what do you do about employee absenteeism? Here’s 4 things you can do:

  1. Focus on performance

    In your head, you’ve started to tell yourself a story about why Brady has been late; but you don’t really know anything about that. What you do know is that his absence is effecting your business — and you can’t have that. It doesn’t matter what is causing the problem, what you need to do is address the performance issues, directly.

    “Barry, I notice you’ve been sick a lot. I don’t feel like I can count on you to be here and so I’ve avoided client meetings on Mondays. This is not healthy for the business. I know we all get sick, how can we work together to make sure we can schedule the client kick-offs at the time that is convenient for the client?”

  2. Document

    You need to start keeping records. When is Brady absent? How has that affected the company’s success? Keep a diary of any incidents and any discussions you have with him. Be specific and date each entry. This helps you to keep a focus on the facts (and not the perception) and will help you if it comes to the point where you need to take more serious action.

  3. What’s your policy?

    Do you have an employee handbook? Does it have a sick time or paid time off policy? Have you informed all your employees of this policy? Great, use it. If you don’t, now’s the time to get one together — really. There’s lots of reasons to formalize this, but for now, your most important reason is Brady.

  4. Be prepared to act

    Hopefully some frank discussions and a clear policy will be all that you need to convince Brady to mend his absent ways. But if not, if he exceeds your PTO/Sick time policy and his performance continues to impede the success of the team, you must fire him. I don’t care about his talent, or how popular you think he is, he’s undermining your authority and your team’s success. Let him go.

How would you handle this situation? Anything I’ve missed? What do you about employee absenteeism? 

Photo credit: by Ralph Hockens

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