Absenteeism – more than just a nuisance

When was the last time you reflected on the absenteeism of your team members?

Think about your team or those who seem to be noticeably MIA lately (maybe they’re present in body but not so much in mind). Have you stopped to wonder or – heaven forbid – ask (in a caring, non-judgemental way) what’s going on with them?

  • Are they ill? If so – do they know you genuinely care about them and their long-term wellbeing?
  • Are they burnt out? If so – do they know you genuinely care about them and their long-term wellbeing?
  • Are they suffering from a mental illness? If so – do they know you genuinely care about them and their long-term wellbeing?
  • Is someone close to them ill or struggling and your employee needs the headspace to help them through this difficult time? If so – do they know you genuinely care about them and that includes the wellbeing of their loved ones too?

(Side note for all of the above – are your employees aware of the support you/HR/your organisation offers, whether it’s EAP services, flexible work arrangements, access to health benefits, etc. Maybe consider a time and place for a meaningful, non-obtrusive conversation.)

  • Or are they disengaged with their work/manager/colleagues and simply can’t face coming to work? Ahh – lets explore that in more detail…

Employee engagement is one of the driving factors for how people show up to work… or not – as the case may be. The energy levels they put into their job. The connections they make and the work they produce.

Absenteeism can be a by-product of a disengaged employee. And connecting with them, having a conversation about how they’re going, just might give you some insight into their frame of mind.

Don’t wait until the dreaded annual review, take the time to connect with them because you care about them and their engagement with all things ‘work’ (tasks, environment, development, stakeholders, peers, etc). Have a coaching conversation where they do the talking and you do the listening.

Make sure they feel safe and comfortable having the conversation, it’s not a subject that you want to bring up in the middle of an open plan office, but you might not want to conduct it in a formal setting either. So find a neutral environment conducive to a positive, solutions-based conversation.

The insight gained for both of you can be priceless. For you it can assist with strengthening the culture of your team. It could lead you to other areas to focus your engagement energy. But more importantly, it could lead to the individual reengaging, reconnecting and maybe starting to feel like they’re adding value again.

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