Let me start by saying that getting a sunburn is no joking matter. We need to take care of our skin by using sunscreen, applying moisturizers, and getting regular check-ups at the dermatologist.
That being said, I can empathize with today’s Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos. I’ve had plenty of sunburns in my life. So, I understand how painful a sunburn can be. I’ve also played hooky from work once or twice. Put the two together and you have today’s cartoon.
But that wasn’t the real takeaway for me. Today’s Time Well Spent was less about employees calling in sick and going to the beach. We know that happens. For me, I was reminded of that moment in my early career when I was that sunburned employee. And how, maybe instead of sympathy, managers should empathize more because they’ve probably been there too.
Be open to last-minute schedule changes. Organizations that allow last-minute shift changes or scheduling adjustments might be able to mitigate employees calling out when they’re not really sick. I realize this involves some extra effort, but it could be totally worth it to avoid scrambling around trying to cover the work when an employee calls out.
Let employees know they can communicate with you. I’m talking about trusting positive relationships. When employees feel they have a good relationship with their manager, they will be much more open to confiding in them. “Hey, I’d really love to find a way to take a day off. Can you help?” or “I’m going to see Randy Rainbow in concert on Sunday and would like to come in late on Monday. Is that okay?”
Don’t be wishy-washy when the answer is “no”. The first two points I’ve made here are about managers being more flexible. But I do understand there are times when flexibility isn’t an option. Don’t be afraid to tell employees that. They will respect you for it. Managers don’t need to be mean or grouchy about it. But do be clear. The last thing you want is for an employee to misinterpret your comments and think it’s okay to show up late (or not at all).
Ultimately, managers should try to be flexible when they can. And let employees know when they can’t. If employees know they can count on their manager to do these two things, then I have to believe that employees will respect the answer and abide by it. Maybe it’s time for managers to remember and empathize about what it was like when they were just starting their careers. When they desperately wanted to play hooky and go to the beach. For that matter, maybe there are a few managers who can empathize with employees because they would love to do that right now.13