A client was recently complaining that she had heard that one of her team was calling in sick when she wanted a free day’s holiday.
A few years back I received a mailing that had obviously been sent by a disgruntled employee or freelancer. It told me that the person running the company was everything you wouldn’t want to be known for by your clients: Rude, Unreliable, Unprincipled and Underhand … to name a few. I wasn’t picked out for special treatment … all the company’s contacts had been sent the email.
What’s the link? … Disengaged employees.
Employee engagement is critical to your business. And no matter how big or small you are, the people you have working under your name need to be invested in you. This means that they don’t swing a sicky or insult you to your contacts. Or worse still … they quit and stay!
So, (other than making sure all your HR policies are up to date) what can you do?
Rules, regulations and agreements are useful when things have gone wrong but … if you make sure you are communicating and engaging with your team you can stop the problem from arising in the first place.
- Speak to your team – let them know what is happening – good or bad. We are all dealing with uncertainty at the moment and if you don’t tell your team what is going on then they will assume the worst. We fill in the blanks and make up the bits that we don’t know. Try to minimise the gossip by letting them know the truth as soon as you can … even if the truth is that you don’t know.
- Don’t ignore a problem when it’s small. If someone is consistently turning up late by 5 minutes don’t ignore it. The rest of the team will notice it’s happening and that you have let it slide. That will either give them notice that punctuality isn’t important or that everyone isn’t treated the same. Neither of which is good news for you. A good manager will want to make sure that their team member isn’t having problems and consistently turning up late may well be a sign … and you won’t know unless you ask.
- And if you instigate return to work interviews for everyone, after every absence you will quickly be able to help those who need it and highlight to those that don’t, that you are monitoring the situation.
Have those difficult conversations. Be clear, be concise and above all communicate quickly.