Stop the Sick Day Resentment

Tomorrow is a busy day at work. You’ve planned for it, scheduled properly, made the needed operational adjustments, and kept your fingers crossed so that everything will work out as planned. Then it happened…

The first thing in the morning you get a call from one of your key employees. She’s sick and is calling out for today. NOOOOOOO, how can this happen? What do you do now?

Don’t Penalize an Employee for Calling Out Sick

Well, the first thing you DON’T do is chastise your employee for calling out sick. Have you ever said something like this to an employee?

“Mary, you can’t call out sick. You know how important this day is”.

“Aw, come on, you were fine yesterday. How can you be sick today?”

“Don’t do this to me. What am I supposed to do now?”

“Well, I know you’re sick, but can’t you come in for just a few hours?”

If your business cannot run well because one employee is missing, there are bigger problems to deal with.

Sick Day Excuses

Is Mary giving you an excuse for calling out sick? You’ll never know whether she’s really sick or not. But instead of making Mary feel bad about calling out, you should simply thank her for letting you know and wishing her a speedy recovery. Example:

“Mary, I’m sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well. Don’t worry about us, it’s more important that you get better quickly. Rest up and I hope to see you tomorrow.”

Mary is already feeling bad. We must not make her feel worse by our harsh words or work concerns on a pressing day. We must not make her feel guilty for something she cannot prevent. Our job is to provide comfort and assurance that we care for her health and wellbeing.

Do You Resent Someone for Calling Out Sick?

Employees should not be shamed just because they took a company-allowed sick day. These are benefits provided by the company and we should expect them to take one when needed. It’s not a planned day, it’s a sick day. Sick days are unplanned and unprepared for. It happens whether we want it to or not. It’s our job to deal with it.

So, how have you planned for someone who has taken sick?

  • Have you cross-trained your team members so one can fill in to replace a lost employee?
  • Have you developed other departmental leaders so they may take on an expanded role during challenging times?
  • Have you encouraged a “step-up-to-the-plate” mindset, so everyone understands the importance of a specific day or task and becomes more productive when needed?

We must stop the sick day resentment. Callouts will happen. It’s our job to deal with them in the most effective way possible. But that won’t be possible if we haven’t planned for the unexpected.