Flu Season - How to Sub for an Absent Employee

Posted by martin.parnell |

I’m a great fan of the England Premier League Soccer team Arsenal, and it’s frustrating if a good player from the team is sick or injured. Fortunately, the manager, Arsene Wenger, is fully aware of what skills are needed in a substitute. That player may not have the same level of skill, but is trained well enough to get the job done and help the team. 

During the past week, I have noticed a number of signs popping up, in various locations, informing people where they can go to get their flu shot. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my step-son, Calum around this time last year, in which he was telling me that his work load had increased considerably due to colleagues being absent with the flu. His bosses felt it wasn’t worth getting temporary cover as, by the time they had learned the intricacies of a particular job, the employee would probably have recovered. 

I’m sure this is an issue for many businesses, at any time of year. If you have an employee that needs time to deal with health or other personal issues, how do you cope in the meantime? You may just hire a temporary worker, but this isn’t always viable. It may be that the absence is only for a day or two, but even that can cause some disruption or mean that someone else has to cover the workload. 

Basically, it’s a matter of prioritizing. In order to do that, you need to be aware of what aspects of their job your employees deem most important. It may not be what you think. 

So, I have a suggestion that might help in preparation for when this situation may arise. Ask each of you employees to spend ten minutes thinking about their typical day and jot down: 

  1. What is the first thing they do? 
  1. What other tasks need to be done every day and in what order do they do them? 
  1. Do they have any tips – things that they do that make certain tasks quicker or easier? 
  1. What areas of their work will affect their colleagues, if it isn’t done? 
  1. Are there tasks that are non-essential, but they do them because they have a little extra time? 

Doing this will help whoever has to cover to know what tasks are essential and which, if not done, will affect the smooth running of your organisation. These brief notes can then be filed away until they are needed. 

You may not have a bench full of subs to draw on, but at least, if you know what particular skills are needed and tasks to be completed, it makes being a manager a whole lot easier for you and your other players.

comments powered by Disqus