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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The below is an excerpt from Dear Abby which I recently read in my local paper.

Co-worker’s abuse of sick leave has come to a head 

Dear Abby: My co-worker takes advantage of our employer’s generous sick leave policy and calls in sick frequently. She will return the next day with no outward sign of illness and has, on several occasions, returned with a fresh haircut and manicure. When she’s at work, she frequently steps away from her desk for personal calls.

I finally said something to our supervisor because I feel taken advantage of. Having worked in this office for more than 10 years, I know the work inside and out, so I can do my work – and hers – with ease. I actually like my co-worker, but I feel she’s taking me for granted. Our supervisor had a talk with her, but it didn’t help. Would it be unreasonable for me to have a frank discussion with her directly? I foresee that it may cause a cool reception, but I’m losing patience.

Co-worker Conundrum

Dear Co-worker: It’s not unreasonable to speak with this co-worker, but what have you to gain by confronting her and what do you have to lose? If it will cause a frostier work environment, don’t do it. A better solution would be to STOP DOING HER WORK FOR HER. Having to face the consequences of slacking may give her an incentive to change her ways.

As a human resources professional, the headline immediately drew me in.  Although I am sure Abby would be the first to tell you she is no HR expert, she gave this disgruntled person good advice.

What disappointed me was that this supervisor spoke with this problem employee but it “didn’t help”.

What exactly did the supervisor say to this employee?

I stress to businesses the importance of explaining to their employees what is expected of them and holding them to it.  Once they do that, they then need to have some type of mechanism to measure results. Those who don’t perform, take advantage of company benefits, or violate certain company policies should be put through progressive discipline.

Turning a blind eye to this type of thing, as this supervisor seems to have done, is much too common in today’s workplace. What this causes is morale issues among the other employees who are working hard. Good employees will leave the company, feeling they are not valued.

Businesses, even small ones, should put in place a performance management process, in which they provide to employees measurable expectations or goals and provide periodic feedback.  Also, having core competencies in place is an excellent way to build on behaviors critical to the company’s success.  These competencies also make it easier to address unsatisfactory behaviors related to things such as teamwork, collaboration and communication.

The truly successful businesses understand this and flourish.  Others who don’t wallow in stagnation, dealing with low productivity and high turnover.

Marzano Human Resources Consulting is experienced in helping businesses develop performance management processes, including implementation of a core competencies model.  We also provide training to both managers and employees.


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