Business management advice blogs and forums are abound with questions about how and why employees abuse their benefits and what can be done about it.
At first glance, there seems to be all sorts of reasons: some workers may want to squeeze in a few more days off after they’ve used their allotted vacation hours. Some simply don’t feel like coming in, some may have substance abuse problems that they try to conceal by taking more time off. Some think they work hard enough or are good enough people that they deserve a shorter week, and try to make this happen by routinely taking off Mondays or Fridays.
But one underlying reason why employees seem to cheat the system is simply because they can. Perhaps they’ve tried it once and no one noticed, so they continue their bad behavior. Or if they see other co-workers or even managers taking extra sick days now and then and getting away with it, it further justifies that no one seems to mind.
Companies that have a weak reporting system for attendance seem especially vulnerable. If there’s no firm protocol in place for how or when people are supposed to call in sick, or no consequences for doing it incorrectly, it makes it simple for people to not want to put in further effort to notify the right people.
Eventually, you can have a workplace where fudging hours here and there becomes the norm.
Fixing this the hard way could involve beefing up discipline which could certainly clean things up fast, even though everyone’s morale would take a hit. Threats of lawsuits or fears of audits can also get things moving in a hurry.
But one easy way to clean up a culture of absenteeism, create a fair system that protects employees and employers and a clear process to reduce potential abuse, is by partnering with an employee call off service.
When an employee decides they need to call in sick, they’re asked to call a number. They’ll connect to a live operator who will take their information including their general health situation and how long they expect to be out.
This employee call off service has some useful advantages for organizations of any size.
Companies with multiple locations, multiple shifts or multiple managers may face challenges keeping track of everyone. Not everyone will have access to their own computer either, and manual time cards also may have a high potential for fraud/abuse. But a third-party service provider can record and log every call, and can provide regular reports of attendance by individuals, departments or company-wide.
Requiring all employees to call the same number, regardless of location, eliminates loopholes like “I didn’t know what number to call or how to best reach you.” Companies can make all employees to use these services from any state, and at any hour.
An employee who says they didn’t want to use the number and tried to leave a message locally really isn’t following proper procedure at all.
A supervisor dealing with a last-minute no-show may need to take time away from their daily duties to readjust schedules, call in extra help or even check on the whereabouts and status of the missing employee.
Organizations where there are multiple voice mail or email boxes where people can leave “I’m sick” messages may require some research to properly check if any messages were left.
But an employee call off service can provide advance warning that someone won’t make it in, so the planning can start sooner, and they also won’t have to scramble. Scrambling may still happen infrequently in actual last-minute emergencies, but these would likely be minimized by requiring people to call in for normal sick-day situations like colds or flus.
By requiring everyone to go through the same process and managers to keep track of all documentation can keep people in line easily by removing the temptation to abuse or defraud the system. While it still will be up to the individual to keep track of their sick hours and other hours, Payroll/HR will do so as well.
The operators at the employee call off service may not have everyone’s hours – they only collect and relay info – but the information they provide to managers can be thorough and accurate.
When an employee calls in to the call center to report being sick, they will receive a confirmation code, which they can hold onto. If a manager ever inquires about their absenteeism or they notice that their used sick hours don’t add up like they’re supposed to, they can produce the code that showed they followed proper protocol and correct the matter.
This also can be used in case managers ever forget something. Managers can also use it to challenge someone who claims they called: if they can’t produce the right code, they’re not being honest.
Knowing that they correctly called in can provide peace of mind to ill employees, rather than worrying if their “I can’t make it in” message never was heard by the right manager. If someone believes they’ll be out for a few more days, they’ll be able to share this as well when they call.
This is a better option than an employee dragging themselves in when they’re sick and unproductive, or a manager talking them into coming in when they’re not at their best.
Overall, an employee call off service can be a handy tool to keep track of absenteeism. But it also can have extra benefits of discouraging employees from behaving badly if they know someone is watching closely.