It’s a fact that if you have a job, you need to be in the office to complete your work. Generally speaking, if you are hired by a company and are an employee for them, you need to be in the office every day. A big part of being a professional is being a worker an employer can trust.
No matter what your job is, we all need days away from work once in a while. However, some people seem to have a relative that dies every couple of weeks.
Whether your employee likes it or not, their coworkers count on them to be there to do their work every day. If they are not reliable and miss countless days of work, then it’s likely that their coworkers, or you, will have to pick up the slack. This can cause resentment and anger.
The Culture of Absenteeism
There are all sorts excuses and reasons why employees miss a day of work. The real issue is when they start misusing sick leaves and take too much time off. If this is something your employee is doing, it should be addressed right away.
Their reasons for being out frequently don’t matter. What matters is the fact that they are not reliably at work.
Spotty attendance might signal any of a range of issues, from a problem at home to job dissatisfaction. Talk with your employee privately to find out if they have encountered a difficult personal problem, such as a relationship breakup or an ill family member, but be careful not to cross the line of professionalism.
If your discussion reveals dissatisfaction with their job, perhaps the employee needs to consider adjusting their attitude, or if the job is a good fit for them. You may have to remind them that chronic and unexplained absences will be treated according to your company's attendance disciplinary policy.
It’s difficult deciding whose excuses are legitimate and whose aren’t, but, it is your job is to ensure that you have a reliably present workforce and right now, you have a problem child and their behavior could become contagious.
What to Do?
Work with the affected teams and managers to come up with back-up plans or alternatives while the absenteeism issue is being resolved. As soon as you can, tell the absentee that they have been missing work too often and you need to be able to count on them to be present. While you certainly understand that things come up from time to time, the frequency of these unplanned absences is too high. Mention, going forward, "I need you to be here reliably, every day, except in the most extreme of circumstances". Ask them to commit to doing that.
From there, stick to it. If they continue to have unplanned absences at a rate that you find unacceptable, you need to enforce consequences. However, if this is a long-term employee whose work has always been good and this is a recent problem, you should express concern and ask what’s going on, and try to solve the problem.
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This article is adapted from What to do about MIA employee? by Dave Conrad