Career Advice

The Etiquette of Calling in Sick

Mark Smith Posted by Mark
min read
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I have been a manager for more years than I care to remember and one of the things that I seem to obsess over is the way in which some staff communicate that they are unwell or “working from home”. Maybe it’s because I have seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off far too many times, that I am nearly always sceptical of people calling in sick or calling in to care for a sick loved one. To refresh your memory, check out this scene on youtube:

To try and get some perspective on this subject, I am keen to hear what other managers’ think. In my world, and believe me it can be an especially unique view on the world, I always expect every staff member to call me and discuss their situation. This means the decision to not come in has some gravitas and I can discuss what the current priorities are on their desk. Being a cynic, it is surprising how sick people get when they are not busy or the weather is extraordinarily good. In my view, asking them to think about their work priorities, means they then ask themselves about their own personal priorities and their decision to stay home. Having said this, if someone is genuinely ill or has a sick family member, it nearly always is 100% obvious through behaviour and I always want people to stay at home. 

The cost to the business of spreading the bug and making more people ill, far outweighs an extra day or two spent ‘under the covers’. In recent years, I have had to ask more people to call me rather than text or email that they are sick. 

Is this trend a response to the way we communicate generally now? Defaulting to short text and digital platforms to send messages as we avoid the more personal verbal or face to face communication? Is it because that as managers from Gen Y start to build their own teams, they are reflecting the change in the way people communicate. OR is it simply because I am unduly worried about people taking the ‘mickey’ and it’s just a reflection on my own personality and quirks. I am keen on your thoughts Please feel free to comment below.