Ask Shawn: We're sick of chronic absenteeism


Shawn McVey counsels a manager who's struggling with a veterinary technician and receptionist who frequently call in sick.

We are a small one-doctor practice in a rural area. We have a staff of about eight, and we have been struggling with chronic absenteeism with a part-time receptionist and a full-time technician. I've documented 10 sick days for the receptionist and nine for the technician over a relatively short time period. Do you have any suggestions about how to remedy this?-Sick at heart


Dear Sick at heart, 

Manage them with the three-strike rule, and terminate them if they don't follow your attendance policy. Your documentation suggests you have no other course of action left. If you don't act, it may send a bad message to your employees who are following your policy. 

To make up for being short-staffed until you can find replacements, offer a bonus to your existing team members by splitting 0.4 percent of the missing staff person's wages. Team members will be happy that you acknowledged them and appreciated their efforts, and you may find that they don't want to replace the other employees. And when you do find the right replacements, your team members will understand an appreciate how valuable good team members are and how critical it is to keep communication open and morale up. 

Good luck!


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