Dear Aunty B,
One of my staff members is taking her full amount of sick leave every month. As soon as a day is accrued she will call in sick. She tends to take her sick days on Thursdays or Fridays which is the day after her musician boyfriend has a gig.
She is entitled to these sick days, and doesn’t need a medical certificate (and doesn’t provide one) because she only takes one day at a time.
But I’m skeptical that she is actually sick and I feel ripped off. I’ve talked to her about it but nothing changes. In every other respect she is a good worker. What should I do?
It is an unfortunate fact that some people believe that, in general, the world owes them a living. And in particular, their employer does.
Their personal values are saying to them: “I have accrued sick leave therefore I can take it – sick or not. I’m entitled”. This sort of staff member would probably look to you to help her out if she really did get sick, even though her accrued entitlements for sick leave were zero.
If your employee falls into this category you have a values clash. This is bad because it means it will be very hard to change her behaviour.
On the other hand, you may just have a problem with “employee engagement”. In this case, your employee has switched off, is not interested anymore, feels no responsibility for getting her work done or helping out her colleagues. She is staying away because she would rather not be at work and feels no guilt when she skites off.
This could be partly your fault. And if it is, there is something you can do about it. You need to re-engage the employee with her work. It’s hard but not impossible. And it’s certainly worth a try. Unengaged people are not bad, they just need more positive attention.
You have to make a sincere effort to get to know your staff member. You could start with asking her how she is going? And what she thinks might be standing in the way of getting her job done.
People generally want two things – to be treated with respect, and valued for their contribution. Recognition needs to be frequent and consistent, timely and specific. So make sure you are giving plenty of positive feedback when she is doing the right thing.
Give it a go and if she’s still going AWOL, consider changing your company policy to require a medical certificate for every sick day. That should make it a bit harder for her to skite off.