Management & Leadership Advice

Even the best of us need a mental health day from time to time. But, what about those employees who continuously are calling in sick? What can you do to discourage these seemingly fake illnesses? 

Attendance policies can be complicated, and they usually vary from company to company. So, make sure your workers know and understand the rules, and clarify your attendance policy. Begin by addressing these commonly asked questions: 


How many sick and vacation days do I have?

 Most organizations specify a set number of days off. This may include sick days, personal days, and vacation time. Your workers should know both where they start and where they stand, so they recognize time off isn’t unlimited.   


What if I can only come in for part of the day?

 Sometimes an employee needs to take a few hours off in the middle of the day for an appointment or a family commitment. Smart businesses offer flexibility in these situations. Rather than penalizing your workers for an entire day, consider counting these as half-days or allowing employees to recoup the lost time before or after regular hours. 


How do I call in sick?

 Your organization should have a standardized process for reporting an absence. Although sending a text or email is simple, this also makes it easier to tell a little white lie. A phone call is more intimidating. After all, who wants to discuss their made-up disease with their supervisor? 


What happens if I miss too many days of work?

 In addition to setting a maximum number of days off, your organization also needs to spell out the consequences. If an employee goes over the established amount of sick days, what happens? Is their pay docked? Do they have to work extra hours? Or, in a worst-case scenario, will they be fired? And don’t forget to follow through. Idle threats will only cause the problem to grow. 


Track Missed Days and Late Arrivals

 To honestly know if someone has an attendance problem, you’ll have to keep records. Fortunately, essential HR software can simplify this process, so no one needs to spend hours filling out attendance sheets. This data will make it easier to confront employees who claim, “I’ve only been out a few times.” You’ll be able to show them, on a calendar, exactly how many days they have missed. 


Have a Heart-to-Heart Conversation

 It’s easy to assume the worst. However, give employees the benefit of the doubt by asking, “What’s wrong?” and “Is there anything I can do?” For example, what if you found out someone has been calling in every Monday, not because he’s partying, but because he’s been spending weekends caring for a sick relative? This would change your perspective, and you could work together to find a better solution. 


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