Are absent employees leaving you short staffed

Are absent employees leaving you short staffed? When your people start calling in with excuses like, “I forgot to check and drank something with milk and have an allergic reaction. Now I’m miserable and can’t work,” or, “I got a splinter in my foot and can’t walk,” or even, “I just need some personal days,” it’s a clue that your people are sick – sick of work.  You should be a little more than troubled about the employee who has a death or illness in the family on a regular basis. It is likely that he or she is avoiding work.

The disease at work is stress. As we let people go during economic downturns, we place increased stress on our people because they must do more with less. People become overwhelmed by the challenges and they feel justified in skipping work. They are saying, “I can’t stand it here,” in an overt sort of way. There is a building desire among workers to job-hop, and once the economy recovers some employers may see heavy turnover.

Why don’t those people leave now? They can’t afford to. During economic downturns, talent tends to stay put because of low workplace demands. With rising unemployment and layoffs, workers worry about job security. But you can bet that employers will see a rising exodus once the job market picks up. “According to Companies at Crossroads researched and written by the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly a third of business executives reported that employee engagement is low and, as talent demand grows, they expect to lose key people.” (“Businesses Sailing Into Perfect Storm for Talent as Global Economy Improves,” Industry News, March 8, 2010.)

People want to be committed to their work and feel as though they are contributing. But they begin to think about leaving when executives and leaders don’t clearly demonstrate that they are important to organizational success. Emotional Intelligence plays an important role here. When people don’t feel cared for, it’s hard for them to care. They feel unimportant when their work is not acknowledged and they live in fear of loosing their job.

The tone and culture of the organization is set by the leaders. Despite tough times such as the recent economic downturn, it’s possible to foster positive emotions in the workplace. A statement of sincere appreciation and a dose of empathy can go a long way to remedying an unhappy worker. This small effort may prevent next week’s phone call from your assistant stating that he couldn’t make it to work because the garage door is stuck halfway open.

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