The "Sickie"

TEKST: BRUCE WENHAM

How much is the "sickie" draining your company?

How many slackers this year have phoned in on Monday or Friday complaining of a sore throat, cold, flu, toothache, migraine, back pain - and so on? You know damn well their telling porkies to get that long weekend off - but at least they could be more imaginative and original! i. e. - "The dog ate my car keys. We're going to hitchhike to the vet" or "I can't come in to work today because I'll be stalking my previous boss, who fired me for not showing up for work. OK? '

Your HR department manager has been warning you for years that employee absenteeism is getting worse. Employees are taking it as a right, just like holidays and making sure they use up their allocation. Just what are you going to do about it? If you don't act quickly - your company's going down! Look at what's happening in the world! - Mass sick leave is now being used as a tool in industrial disputes - and you know that you haven't planned any wage rises this year.

Well - you could turn to the dark side of the force and use fear to make employees work through their illnesses. But that could be counter productive. You know you're going to have to find a way without physically dragging the bored or lazy devils back to work.

Monitor your employee sickness absence records for frequency and patterns. 'Aha - that's why Geoff was always absent when Bill went on a business trip - he was having an affair with his wife! '

Return-to-work interviews are probably the most influential element in ensuring that absences are not treated casually. 'Had the flu on Friday did you? - funny how my daughter said she was dancing with you at that rave the same night'.

Why not introduce bonuses for a good attendance record? But then there may be a danger of promoting the idea that it is more than a normal requirement, i. e. your paying that lazy Grzegorz just to get out of bed in the morning!

Early recognition (bug him and his house 'Will Smith - Enemy of the State style'), effective assessment (lie detector test) and rapid intervention (shoot him) are key to managing short-term and frequent absence, and can prevent it from becoming a longer-term and more sustained problem.

VOCABULARY

the 'sickie' - a day's sick leave
draining - exhausting, diminishing
slackers - inactive (lazy) people
telling porkies - telling lies
stalk - to follow a person keeping under cover
fire - to dismiss
HR - human resources
absenteeism - the persistent habit of being absent from work
allocation - no. of days paid (sick) leave you can have in one year
sick leave - leave of absence owing to sickness
disputes - an argument, debate, quarrel
wage - regular payment made to an unskilled/ semi-skilled employee

dragging - pulling roughly and violently
monitor - to watch, check, supervise
rave - an acid house party
attendance - presence
recognition - acknowledgement
bug - to plant a concealed listening device in
assessment - examination
rapid - swift, quickly accomplished
intervention - interruption, mediation



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