- Living in Florida, we often run into these “the weather is absolutely gorgeous days” where we want to play hooky and go to the beach. And sometimes we actually do it. We’re also famous for gloating in January and February about wearing shorts when our friends are posting snowstorm pictures on their Facebook pages.
- Then there are moments like today when, in between writing this article, I’m pulling together my Hurricane Dorian supplies. It’s 80 degrees and the sun is shining, but we’re prepping for a few days with no electricity. Ah, it’s the price we pay for living in paradise most of the time.
The bottom line is, whether it’s reason number one or two, unplanned employee absences do happen. There are also a plethora of other reasons that employees might unexpectedly not show up for work. Like a car accident. Or a sick child or parent.
Even when employees have tremendous flexibility in their schedules, unexpected absences do happen. That doesn’t mean the employee, or the organization should have to suffer when it comes to getting the work done.
Give employees a quick and easy way to report their status. Hopefully, the employee isn’t hurt or ill. Hopefully, nothing catastrophic has happened. Or something terrible is happening with their family. However, when something does happen, employees should be able to focus on themselves, their family, or their home. They shouldn’t have to spend their precious time calling in or waiting on hold to speak with a supervisor. Use technology to give employees a quick way to inform their manager what’s going on and that they will call back later.
Allow employees to pick up extra work and shifts. When an employee does call out, the work still needs to be done. Organizations should have a way to immediately get the word out that there are extra shifts or work. This gives employees who are in a position to pick up some extra work the opportunity to rearrange their schedule and help the company (and maybe themselves) out. It could be as simple as texting another family member to pick the kids up after soccer practice. Or asking a friend if they can help a parent make dinner. The point is, employees might be able to pick up extra work if they have the ability to easily rearrange their schedules.
Stay in touch with employees who are out of the office. I know we’re talking about unexpected employee absences today. But another aspect of absences that needs to be addressed is letting employees know that they’re missed, and that work isn’t simply piling up on their desk. Give employees the space they need to take care of their business but also let them know that the organization is supporting them during this time.
Employees at every level of the organization have unexpected things happen. Organizations should have the plans and technology in place to deal with the unexpected. It will make the surprise much easier to bear.15