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HR News for January 30th

Pam’s summary of the key HR issues this week on personal leave, absenteism and leaders vs managers

Exactly When Can Employees Access Personal Leave?

Many employers and employees admit to some degree of confusion when it comes to the nitty gritty of when personal leave can be accessed. We all know that it is one of the 10 National Employment Standards (or NES) and yet some of the finer details are less than clear.
This article from HC Mag is a good starting point
Here’s why I say that:
1. Your own company policy really is the first place that managers and employees will go to for guidance.
Your policy needs to be clear. The NES set the overall framework and your policy needs to fit under that and fill in the gaps
2. Access to personal leave needs to be consistent.
Reasonable access is the byline here – it can be tempting to easily approve personal leave for high performing staff but not so easily for others. This is not fair. It will lead to trouble – from staff morale and legal perspectives
3. You can ask for evidence (such as a sick certificate for leave the day prior to or just following a public holiday – think Australia Day last week!)
However you need to be reasonable and also have this expectation and requirement clearly spelled out

Why Company Culture Is Linked To Absenteeism

This article from IHR canvasses the age old conversation about what can be done to reduce absenteeism. Some of us hold the view that “presenteeism” is a larger problem – this is when employees are at work but not their fully productive and focused selves.
That is one long link! (I will start to use bitly again)

Absent employees create challenges on a range of levels
– they use up their sick leave and then if genuinely sick with a major illness or injury (like glandular fever or a broken leg) then they have no sick leave balance available and have to use annual leave or even leave without pay
This has been a trend increasing over the past 15 or so years as many people view sick leave as a resource like their annual leave rather than the insurance policy or back up plan that it actually is
– team performance can suffer when the rest of the team need to pick up the extra load of one or two people being away
– it’s costly for the business as you are paying wages for someone who is not connected to bringing in any income.
A client recently had the double whammy of sick leave in their sales and BD team. It was a tough time for the business but at least sick leave has some boundary, whereas absenteeism is something that you find out about only on the day and that leaves limited time to be able to set up a work around
As I usually do, here are my key takeaways and recommendations for you on the subject of how culture connects to absenteeism.
1. Creating a solid team culture and “vibe” will help in more ways than you might think. Many companies notice that a tight knit and focused team has less absenteeism and more results
Having a good team with the desired attitude and culture is essential
2. Watch out for trends with absenteeism and be prepared to have a gentle and open conversation with the person involved.
Some people genuinely do not understand that their sick leave is like insurance for them. We all think “it won’t happen to me” and yet we have all had experiences where we needed extended time off work
3. Defining your target culture is the best lace to start and engage people in that process
Get clear on what culture looks, sounds and feels like for staff, leaders and customers as well as suppliers.

2017 IS The Year Of The Leader

LMA, who I will be working with this year, have published this great article

It gets to the heart of the difference between leaders and managers. Thinking back to culture and absenteeism, someone who manages the tasks and the details will create a culture very different to someone who leads and engages the team.
Leaders do not necessarily have a formally assigned role as leader – as many of us have found when you meet the “opinion leader” or voice of the team. Many employees wield immense influence over others from a position well within the structure and without formal authority.

Leadership development must be on your radar this year
1. Put it on your personal professional development plan. Even if you do not want to formally be a leader, be conscious of how you behave, communicate and influence others. That is the essence of leadership
2. Consider coaching to help improve your skills in leading yourself. How you manage and deal with your own stress. How you can take action to make the changes that you desire. What is your career plan?