As a leader, I am sure that you have dealt with or are dealing with workplace absence and it is costing your company profits, productivity, and customer satisfaction. It is well known that not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees “take a sick day” because their attitude is at a low point and they just don’t want to or can’t do their work.
Engaging people is a perfect platform to help ease the pressure of absences. If people are engaged at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose or feeling blue.
Some think that paying more money, improving job security or working conditions are the only answers. Well, they aren’t, and finding solutions can be perceived as a daunting task.
People who lead other people need to become more tuned to their employees’ emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. This is may seem to be easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, however, there is no quick fix.
To reduce the amount of absence there are three practices you need to consider adapting or improving in your organization:
Always pick the right person for the job in the first place.
Improve your interviewing and selection processes.
Spend more time on this process; pay more attention to the applicant’s attitudes rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better.
Find out what makes them engaged, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Engage them in meaningful conversation, not just surface chatter. Make sure they know what they’re getting into and be sure the job suits them.
Always believe in and trust your people.
If you’ve interviewed well and picked the right person for the job, then you need to trust them to do their assigned job. There should be no need for micromanagement if you found the right person.
However, you need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and your body language.
If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, discuss it with the individuals and work on the lines of communication and connection. Don’t leave the communication to perception because as a leader you will lose every time.
If, on the other hand, you believe that they’ll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions and they’ll give you a fair day’s work, then it is more likely this is what you’ll get.
The tough part of believing in your people is that you need to be willing to allow them to fail and learn. This is critical for success in this area.
As with all theories, there is no guarantee that it will work every time, however, the majority of employees are reasonable people and if you treat them as such then they are more likely to behave in a positive manner.
Most importantly. give them feedback and coach them.
This is where so many leaders fall down in dealing with their people; they’re failing at giving positive, constructive feedback. Many leaders are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance.
Most employees want to know how they are performing in their job; they want to know if they are doing it right or how they could do it better, not necessarily that they are doing it wrong. Seek to improve not just criticize.
If you really want to motivate your people, then you need to give them feedback on what they’re doing well and what needs improvement on a regular basis and with an attitude of authenticity.
When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don’t like, explain it to them.
Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later, after the fact. Also, if you don’t immediately call someone’s attention to something you’re not happy about, then they’ll assume it’s okay. Either that or they’ll think you didn’t notice or you don’t care.
Do it in private. Why is it some leaders still feel it’s okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on the general morale of the company.
When you do speak to the person use “I” messages. Say things like “I liked the way you did that” or “I’m unhappy with the way your reports are always late and I’d like your views on why this is.”
Avoid “You” messages such as “You’re doing great.” That can come across as patronizing or insincere. “You’re doing that all wrong” may cause conflict, lower morale and may not sort the problem.
Focus on one or two things. Don’t spew a whole list of attributes or complaints. Also be specific about job behavior, focus on what the person did or didn’t do, don’t make a personal attack.
Employees will feel happier if they perceive their leader is a reasonable and fair individual – someone who is quick to praise but also says when they’re not happy about something. Someone who is open to listening and allowing others to speak authentically.
The message is – if you want motivated staff then make their work interesting, give them feedback and give them the feeling that they’re involved in the business.
You can make the job more interesting by giving people more responsibility, assigning projects and offering to develop them. You need to regularly give people feedback on how they’re doing; focusing on what they’re doing well rather than on what is not so good. Focus on their strengths first and foremost.
To meet their need to feel involved you should regularly communicate both formally and informally. You could also involve staff in meetings they might not normally attend.
These steps will take time and thought, however, they’ll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work. If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work then they’re less likely to find a reason to “take a sick day”. Contact us if you would like help putting this to work in your company.