If you’re an employer or a manager, then work place absence is costing you money, inconvenience, and can be upsetting to your other employees and even your customers.
What we’re talking about are the days taken off work that are not due to genuine illness or true family emergency. This is about those who “call in sick” because their morale is low and they’re just not engaged or happy with their work.
If people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up looking to stay away.
While increasing pay or improving job security or working conditions are parts of the answer. Yet as Daniel Pink discussed in his book, Drive, after a certain pay-point, more money is not more motivating in itself, especially for your best performers.
Improving working conditions is also not always easy to achieve.
What is proven that does work, by emotional intelligence studies, positive psychology and brain research, that those who employ or manage other people become more tuned to their employees’ emotional sides and find out what really motivates them.
This is also actually simpler, though not necessarily easier especially in the beginning, to move ahead with than these other concerns– however there is no pure quick fix.
Happiness is a habit! We all desire to be happier. Recent research at Harvard University by Shawn Achor, confirms that happier people are actually much more productive and loyal.
Four things to consider to help your folks to be happier at work and reduce absentees.
1. Firstly, pick the right person for the job. Adding time at the hiring process can set you up for more success, as you get better at interviewing and selecting people.
Pay deeper attention to the applicant’s human side rather than just their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better. Create some simple opportunities to gauge their energy and enthusiasm. Be sure they know the complete picture of what the job, workplace, working conditions are and be sure the job suits them.
2. Secondly, you need to believe in your people and express it. If you’ve interviewed well and picked the right person for the job then you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and even your body language.
If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they’re unable to make a decision without checking with you. That they’ll turn up late and go home early. Then that’s exactly what they’ll do. People grow into the vision we hold of them in many cases.
So, the opposite is true, as well, believing they’re going to give the job their all, that you trust them to make decisions and appreciate their drive, this is more likely what you’ll get.
Some people may have little experience with people believing in them!– so it is not a guarantee of quick behavior change, unfortunately in some cases.
3. The third and probably the most important thing you can do to reduce absence and motivate your people is to give them positive recognition, fair feedback and coach them.
Often, employers and managers haven’t been trained in giving recognition. Or they haven’t declared this a company value, or haven’t been told this is expected of them. Giving feedback, even positive, to others can be uncomfortable. But it can be learned and practiced, like other important social skills.
We want to know how we’re doing in a job, and it’s actually a biologically primed desire. Those earliest people had the most likelihood of surviving in more dangerous or unknown locales and in their living groups, if they got feedback about what they were doing. Eat that, no, don’t eat that. Go here, no, don’t go there. Do this, don’t do that. So it’s deeply ingrained!
In particular, one of the most effective ways to give feedback, is sooner, rather than later. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later. For instance, waiting for an annual or other time months away is too late for giving either positive or negative feedback about what someone is doing. Do it as soon as possible!
Also, if you don’t immediately call someone’s attention to something not being done correctly or not up to par, then they’ll assume its okay and continue it. Either that or they’ll think you didn’t notice or you don’t care.
Also, for the most part, do it in private. Why is it some managers still feel its okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on business or team morale, as others become afraid that they are going to be called out next. But, it is a good idea to go over with everyone the type of behavior or action that is unwanted, so everyone knows the situation to avoid.
Plus, while some are reluctant to praise in a group, it is inspiring to others because they understand that if they do well, they’ll have their turn in the limelight.
And peer recognition is powerful, so get everyone involved in recognizing outstanding behavior and commenting on it. This also takes the pressure off the manager to be the only one praising. But have them keep the peer-to-peer exchanges positive. You’re not ignoring what’s not working, just approaching that differently.
Focus on one or two things. Don’t run off a whole list of positive attributes or missteps. Also be specific about job behavior, don’t make a personal attack.
We all feel happier if we perceive someone is reasonable and fair. Be quick to praise, be specific and have a simple plan to follow to correct unwanted actions.
4) Fourth, the more employees feel involved in the outcome and involved in the overall culture beyond just their specific tasks, the more they’ll be sure to show up and give their best.
So communicating regularly is vital, both formally and informally. Making sure “everyone gets the memo” and is not out of the loop. As people move up in skills or demonstrate interest, provide training and professional development opportunities.
As you can see, these four steps are not quick fixes. They’ll take time and thought. But they will help make a bigger difference in how satisfied and engaged folks are in their work, and more likely to give it their all.
YOU are brilliant!