Missing employees

I’m not feeling well today

Absenteeism is a red blot on the economy costing billions each year. A concise definition of absenteeism is found in the Macmillan dictionary as the “habit of not being at school or work when you should be, usually without a good reason”. The close proximity of school and work is appropriate – many organisations continue to operate as adult versions of being in primary school complete with detached principals (executives) and stick wielding teachers (bosses). Staff settle their scores with trumped up illness and dead relatives. Influenza and stomach aches rank highly alongside late uncles and grandparents. Instead of the routine absenteeism management speak, consider a different approach in the coming weeks. Assemble a “HR hit squad” in your organisation to randomly visit employees that are supposedly sick in bed or attending a funeral. They could offer malingerers once off safe passage back to work. Don’t forget to take gifts and flowers for the genuine cases. Then post the pictures on the intranet for staff to cringe or cherish.

Leave out of balance

Ever wondered how some employees float on perpetual leave balances?

In the Auditor General’s Report to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on the financial statements of the Department of Health, year ending 31 March 2006, an emphasis of matter was raised in respect of leave entitlement:

“In many instances differences existed between the application for leave forms in the individual personnel files to that of the leave records on the Personal and Salary administration System (persal).”

I speculate that the road to accurate leave control is still under slow construction. Recently I was going through the standard grey and white payslip for a healthcare professional and I noticed the following message at the bottom:

“Leave credits displayed are subject to auditing. All leave taken has not necessarily been processed on persal yet. Your HR office is responsible to certify the indicated credits as correct.”

Investigating further with my contacts, staff have been taking leave without the system decreasing their leave credits for months and HR is sometimes in the dark too. I wonder who will certify the leave credits for HR staff.

Left to their own devices

No leave applications are needed for those using company time to expedite private matters. Long smoke breaks throughout the day with colleagues, overextended lunches entertaining clients and online chat with cyber friends are popular modes to escape the office. The traditional approaches of clock watching and monitoring internet usage are easy. But it doesn’t build a productive relationship with Generation X and Y staff that detest big brother controls. They simply disengage from the organisation.     

No one in site

I attended the opening day of the International Science Innovation and Technology Exhibition (‘Insite’) at the Sandton Convention Centre with high expectations of robust discussion. Instead, I found rather lethargic employees at several exhibition stands. I guess they were dissatisfied about working on a Sunday. The Human Science Research Council (HSRC) and the Nepad stands were aesthetically pleasing and stocked with glossy information. Regrettably, their stands were devoid of a human touch, I learnt from another exhibitor that their staff left earlier in the day. A quick pointer for those in HR and the marketing department: Send your finest cheerleaders to promote your organisation at exhibitions. Keep your stand buzzing with at least one bright face at all times.

Until next month, I need to get back to work, an entrepreneur doesn’t have the luxury of paid leave.

(HR Future, November 2006)

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