Eye on attendance ï¿½ An Employee Relations case study
ï¿½Well, look there, Robin decided to come in today only five minutes late, instead of 10,ï¿½ Beverly whispers to Anna as Robin rushes in at 8:05 a.m. ï¿½Maybe I should sleep in more often. Chris doesnï¿½t seem to care if sheï¿½s late all the time. This has been going on for six months and heï¿½s done nothing about it.ï¿½ Anna, tired of hearing Beverly complain about her friend Robin, decides to bring the issue up to their supervisor, Chris.
ï¿½Since my office is not in direct view of her area, Iï¿½ve only noticed Robin coming in late once or twice,ï¿½ Chris responds to Anna. ï¿½I canï¿½t address this issue with her based on hearsay that sheï¿½s late every day.ï¿½ Chris agrees to pay more attention to Robinï¿½s tardiness. He recalls that her job performance has been satisfactory, so this appears to be the only issue of concern at this time.
Over the next week, Chris notices that Robin is between five and 15 minutes late on four out of five days. He is shocked that this has been happening without him noticing. On Friday, Robin rushes in at 8:10 a.m. Chris immediately calls her into his office (in front of Anna and Beverly) and tells her that this has to stop ï¿½ if she is late for work one more time, she will be terminated. Robin leaves Chrisï¿½s office in tears, speechless. Alone in his office, Chris ponders the brief, uncomfortable interaction that just took place. He decides to call the Employee Relations consultant for his area.
Following a conversation with his departmentï¿½s ER consultant, Chris decides to acknowledge his poor handling of the interaction with Robin and arranges a time early the next week to meet with her privately. At the meeting, he states that although their previous conversation did not go so well, he is concerned about her tardiness and needs to address it more professionally. He describes what he has observed and explains how his observations supported information he received from others regarding her tardiness. Chris asks Robin for her perspective and then just listens. Robin describes problems with her daycare provider and personal issues she was facing recently with a divorce. She says she feels overwhelmed just to get up in the morning, and making it to work on time is becoming more and more difficult.
Chris empathizes with Robinï¿½s life concerns, but refocuses the conversation on the need for her to be to work on time and the problems it causes when she is late ï¿½ others needing to cover her phone, division among the staff, and reduced morale in the work area. Chris states he expects Robin to be at work at 8 a.m. every day, and he will review her attendance in two weeks. If her prompt attendance is satisfactory, he will review again in 30 days. He understands that all staff may have reasonable cause to be a few minutes late on rare occasions, and he tells Robin she may discuss any special circumstances with him directly. Chris then offers the Employee Assistance Program to help Robin work through her personal issues and refers her to WorkLife Programs for child care resources. Chris follows up this meeting in writing.
- Kathy Peters
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