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Pushing the limit on playing hooky
Q. I think one of my veterinary staff members is abusing the sick days policy. What should I do about it?
A team member who calls in sick too often without actually being ill can affect the morale of your entire team. Even worse, it can affect the level of care and attention each client and pet will receive for the day.
"We count on every team member to show up," says Brian Conrad, CVPM and practice manager for Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Wash.
While it's unrealistic to think there won't be times an employee will need the day off due to illness, neither an occasional cough nor "I didn’t get enough sleep!" are going to work as a valid excuses to take the day off.
When an employee appears to be abusing the system, sit down with him or her and communicate your concerns. Review with them the dates and times they missed and explain the impact on the clinic, the team, and the clients and patients you serve. Show some real compassion and empathy so they know you're willing to work with them and give them a chance to change.
"Discuss the clinic's needs and expectations. This includes the team member showing up in a timely and consistent manner," Conrad says. "Have your expectations in writing and ask the team member to sign the expectations in acknowledgement of the future plan."
Having this one-on-one discussion with your team member empowers him or her to take responsibility for their absences. It also allows impending actions to dictate the future status of his or her employment.
If the trend continues, it may be time to consider termination. Failure to address the employee abusing the system will cause anger and resentment for other team members who have fully committed to the practice.