Holiday Blues

Do your employees need a holiday to get over their holiday?

We are well and truly in the summer holiday season, with employees taking some quality time to recharge their batteries. But just how many employees can you rely on to return to work on their first day following a holiday?

A recent survey of 2,000 employees showed that one in four staff skive off work with a fake sick day on their first day back from holiday. Report

I’m sure some of us can relate to that first day back at work feeling where getting out of bed can feel like raising the titanic, but without delay we get back to work. So, what can be done about these employees who decide to take it upon themselves to have an extended holiday? How can we encourage our employees to come back to work on day one? Should we have to encourage them?

  1. When they return, be upbeat. Ask: did you have a good holiday? Listen to them so as to connect with them.
  2. Then discuss the absence: “When did you get back?” – you might reveal poorly laid holiday plans where they arrived home at 3am the very day they were due in. “What happened yesterday?” Don’t just accept they were ill, ask what they did; were they in bed, how often do they get migraines, what painkillers did they take. You don’t need to cross examine them. Polite intelligent, curiosity can be revealing and, after all, they may have been genuinely ill.
  3. If this is not the first occasion, remind them that it has happened before.
  4. The response to “I can’t help being sick” may be “No you can’t but you can take a responsible attitude and get back from holiday in good time” for example.
  5. Many employees don’t take their full holiday entitlement so why should they pull a sickie? Perhaps you have a “Maximum two weeks at a time” rule. You could indicate that you can be flexible if that fits in badly with flight times. Perhaps better to know they will not be in than to be caught out.
  6. Don’t use a trowel to lay it on. The employee needs to know that you have noticed and (if they are deceiving you) that you have a shrewd idea what has happened and that you do expect them to take a responsible attitude to their employment in future.
  7. If you do this then it is unlikely that a pattern will be established. But if a pattern is, then you might reasonably consider disciplinary action.
  8. However in most cases just be prepared to move on after having made your point. It may be a good juncture to update the employee on what has happened while they were on holiday.

Perhaps getting an employee out of bed is not as challenging as raising the Titianic.

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