You should handle it head on — directly, but with research done first.
Firstly, take a look at what you have done to communicate what entitlements your people are eligible for in relation to leave.
If you have been rigid by not allowing your people to take the odd day off then you may only have yourself to blame.
Have you explained what entitlements exist and how you expect them to be used?
The Fair Work Act allows for:
- Annual leave.
- Personal, carer’s and compassionate leave.
- Long service leave.
Those are minimums and can be used by employees for taking paid leave.
Secondly, if you suspect that your employees are taking sickies you need to understand why.
Perhaps they need a break. Perhaps you are too rigid and not flexible enough to allow them to take a day’s leave here and there.
Or perhaps they have maxed out their leave and have nowhere to go but take a sickie. It is not the first or last time this may happen in Australia.
Thirdly, what type of culture do you wish to create?
With the footy Grand Final coming up and then the Melbourne Cup, what is the chance of someone taking a sickie? Pretty high I would say.
So why not devise a way of striking first?
Ask who needs to take off the Friday or Monday around Grand Final weekend.
Tell them you are willing to roster days off and still achieve coverage – let them know you are up for a little give and take.
Let people know you are up for a series of days off before and after weekends. If you are proactive and flexible you will avoid the surprises.
Another way of dealing with the inevitable is allowing people to self-roster around deadlines and meetings so that you are covered and they feel empowered.
Create an incentive, so that if absenteeism is low during the silly season you will provide some sort of benefit.
Allow the staff to have some say, because the barbecue or movie tickets you thought were great may not cut it, depending upon your demographic.
In that way you are striking at the heart of the problem, not just reacting to someone taking a sickie.
Look to the cause, not the outcome and you may surprise yourself.
SMEs often claim they cannot undertake certain practices such as devising people strategies, but they are often more nimble than larger companies, so they really can.
Try dealing directly and openly and you will achieve the outcomes you desire.