Contractor Forum

1.  Absentee

Posted 10-23-2017 09:05 AM
Any thoughts and how to prevent or minimize last minute call ins? We have about 36 employees and we try and plan a week in advance but Monday roles around and multiple employees call in or the dreaded no show/no call. Looking for ideals to get a handle on it.

Sent from Bobby Elder

2.  RE: Absentee

Posted 10-24-2017 08:59 AM
First look at your absenteeism policy and is that being enforced, if not that would be the starting point.

Secondly, discover why people are calling out sick and set the expectations, maybe they don't know or understand the impact. I have seen this happen in our organization where one manager had established a higher tolerance for calling-in (that has since been adjusted)

Third would be accountability and having attendance tied into performance reviews, there needs to be an impact on the employee because there is surely an impact on your clients, your other employees and your company.

Set the guidelines, the expectations and the consequences and people will self-select. Remember that you are addressing the behavior and not the person, this is not's business.

Good luck,


Eric Knaak
Vice President & General Manager
Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
Rochester NY
(585) 546-1400

3.  RE: Absentee

Posted 10-24-2017 09:44 AM
Assuming it's usually the same guys who miss work on Monday - after Sunday football - why not adjust those guys' work week to be Tuesday through Saturday with Sunday and Monday off?

Joe Bechtold
Air-Smart, Inc.
(630) 871-1855

4.  RE: Absentee

Posted 10-24-2017 09:52 AM
Hi, Bobby:

I'd offer this is really a management issue rather than an employee issue. When something's pervasive, we have to look in the mirror. Having a policy with consequences and being willing to consistently enforce the policy is key to changing any undesirable behavior. So I'd ask these questions:

  • What is your policy on unplanned absence?
    • Is it written?
    • Does it include consequences?
    • Do you consistently apply the policy and enforce any consequences?
  • Is it the same people over and over or just a limited number of employees?
  • What's actually behind the absences? Are there things you can address? Have you asked employees why they're missing work?
I recently read a Harvard Review Business piece about what works best - rewards or punishments. The answer was this: rewards work best when you want people to do something; punishments work best when you want people to not do something.  The nice thing was that the reward discussed was nothing more than a 'smiley face,' so it doesn't have to be expensive.

So I'd think about what punishment was inexpensive but meaningful. In my case, I might employ something like what we have for using a mobile device while driving (1st offense): a) for anyone with a take-home vehicle, it's loss of that vehicle for a week; b) for anyone else, it's a week of leave without pay. So they can call out if they want, but it will hurt for a week.

Don't dismiss trying to figure out if there's something more to it. I had a tech who was consistently late, and it turned out to be he was the parent putting his kids on the bus. No problem! We just shifted his start time slightly. Another tech was consistently missing a certain day of the week because his wife worked, too, and they had daycare issues. So we changed him to 4-10s. And while I may not have liked the 4-10s, it saved me some overtime, and it was better to have a guy working consistently 4 days a week than having 1 day a week where we wondered if our tech would show up. People appreciate you helping them with their issues; it can be a great opportunity to build loyalty!

If you're making accommodations, do be conscious that you're being consistent with your employees. And by consistent, I don't necessarily mean equal. If you have two kids, one 14 and one 4, being equal means sending them both to bed at, say, 8 pm. Being consistent means they both have a bedtime that's appropriate.

Good luck!

Linda Couch
Chief Operating Officer
Parrish Services
Manassas VA