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.

Engagement (or any) surveying is not enough

Asking someone a bunch of pre-determined questions on one particular day, of one particular week, in one particular month in their career journey with your organisation is a standard way of ‘measuring’ employee engagement. But how do you know you have all the right puzzle pieces?

I can think of many times in my career that a survey was administered in a time of turbulence for me or my team. It may have been the shitty time of budget cutting; or maybe a new project was just launched; or the team was disrupted in a multitude of other ways. But I knew (or at least hoped) that the survey results weren’t a true reflection of their engagement overall.

Without a deep dive, or even just a focus group ‘sanity check’, how do you know the true value of the feedback you’ve collected? If it’s been a crappy day/week/month for someone, does that reflect on their survey answers? In my experience, hell yes! You may still need to address the issues front and centre, but you definitely should check the validity of the engagement data before making any decisions about long-term action planning.

The best way to find the root cause of disengagement or even that tipping point between fully connected and just doing ok, is discussion. Using insight-encouraging questions to gain clarity, a deeper understanding of your employee’s engagement levels, is critical if you want to turn meh into good, or good into lets-smash-this-out-of-the-park.

If you’re serious about employee engagement, focus groups and deep-dives are important. Use them, or better yet – get an unbiased perspective (like me!) to run them for you.

Top 3 reasons people leave

While pondering over 3 of the top reasons people leave a job or organisation, it’s easy for me to draw on my own experiences. It reinforces just how powerful connection and interaction with people in our work-life really is.

1.     Manager – I’ve left 2 jobs because of “creative differences” with my manager/leadership team. It’s important to note that one of these jobs provided a great salary package and benefits.

2.     Co-workers – I’ve desperately wanted to leave 2 positions because of “differing opinions” with colleagues. My productivity was low, absenteeism at an all time high, and my energy was zapped by those difficult interactions – leaving me tired and anxious even at home.  

3.     Purpose – out of the 5 organisations I’ve been employed by, the one I connected with the most was the one I knew, with crystal clarity, what their purpose was and how my job directly aligned with that purpose. I knew why I was going to work and what we were achieving together. A very powerful (and successful) combination.

The first two points above have nothing to do with my actual job/tasks/position and everything to do with connection (or rather disconnection) with those around me. The third point, while it may not seem like it at first, actually has everything to do with the person steering the ship.  

Contact me if you’d like to talk more about the real reasons your people are walking out the door.