Are you someone who others in your workplace can count on? Whether it’s your contribution to a project, showing up on time for meetings or your attendance, all your collective actions build your reputation, and how you are perceived by others.

Being dependable is something your co-workers are going to admire about you. Think of times from your past or present job, where you’ve had a co-worker absent. In many instances, a Supervisor has to approach someone from the workplace and ask someone to fill-in for the person so that at the end of the day, the overall production is affected as little as possible. Not everyone actually thinks about what an inconvenience this in for all involved because they only consider the personal impact.

First and foremost the Supervisor is usually the one who gets notified directly when an employee is absent. Now that Supervisor must immediately respond to the absence, check the scheduled work that the missing employee was to have done that day, and decide on how to cover for that person with the least amount of disruption to other workers. Next the Supervisor has to contact another employee, or a team of employees, announce the absence and relay the direction decided upon to have someone else cover the responsibilities of the missing employee.

If the Supervisor is fortunate, the person or team of people who receive the news cover willingly and respond favourably, because on another day it may be any one of them who is absent and needs coverage. On the other hand, if the news is met with annoyance and seen as disruptive and unwelcome, it will affect the spirit of those who must do someone else’s work, and the Supervisor has a grumpy group to lead for a day.

Now why would co-workers not willingly pitch-in? Several answers come to mind. First, it may be that the absence of this person is infrequent, in which case most other workers are very understanding and concerned. On the other hand, if the person is frequently away, or there is a pattern such as being ‘ill’ on most Monday’s because the person brags about boozing it up on weekends, there is likely to be some resentment that builds up. Another reason of course is that most people like to arrive at work with a fair idea of what they will be doing on a given day, and the disruption is unwelcome change. If you don’t do well with sudden changes in your workplace, this is something you might identify as an area to work on.

Supervisors really appreciate employees who have a positive attitude when it comes to dealing with change. You’re going to get paid for the days work no matter what job you are doing, and it’s going to look good on you if you size things up pretty quickly and send the message to the boss that you can be counted on to adapt and take on some additional responsibility given short notice. What you are really doing is reducing the stress level of the person who supervises you, completes your evaluations, and may recommend you for promotions and raises. So if it helps, thin of this like helping yourself.

Now if it’s YOU that’s often absent, think about the impact on your own career. Do you eventually want to be promoted? It may not mean much to you now, but one day you might tire of the job you love today, and you may want the extra income and challenge of a more senior position. Management is not going to look kindly on the track record of any employee who is known to miss work much of the time. After all, given a choice between someone who is frequently away and disrupts work distribution, vs. an employee with a good attendance record, the choice is clear and easy.

For this reason, many workplaces try to find ways to encourage and record excellent attendance. In my own workplace, at the end of every month, all the employees with perfect attendance have there names put forth and three are randomly drawn and recognized by a department-wide email and they get a $10 gift card. Not much you say? No it isn’t. The effect however is that everybody opens that email quickly when it comes hoping to see their name. Then congratulations emails zip around cyberspace for a few minutes, and somewhere, three people are going, “Yippee!” I’ve got a co-worker who really wants to win and be cited for this and tries every month to get into the pool. So for $30, Management has hundreds of people working hard to get that perfect attendance.

Being dependable also means there is a consistent level of performance that can be expected both by Management and co-workers as well as clients and customers. For this reason, certain clients will only deal with certain employees, because they know the care, expertise and service they will receive. If an employee is moody, up and down, unpredictable or inconsistent, customers may not approach that person for help, or if they must, be wary of the product or schedule they have been promised.

It is always surprising when a known worker who is not dependable seems astonished to face discipline or can’t understand the attitude of others on their team who don’t appreciate their lack of commitment. If you happen to be the person who is often absent, ask yourself if you are really deriving satisfaction out of your work in the first place. Perhaps it’s actually in your own best interests to find a job you’d like better, or a place where you’d be a better fit. If this is the case, you’ll notice more of a commitment on your own part to showing up all the time because you want to be there. Leaving a place you don’t enjoy, or getting away from work you don’t find interesting or rewarding may be just the thing that improves your future attendance and attitude.

And should you have arrived at work to find this post printed off and anonymously lying on your desk or work area, don’t get all angry and ticked off with somebody who put it there. Somebody is trying to suggest perhaps that your own dependability is affecting others, and they are giving you a chance to think about it, without confronting you directly. Rather than go around accusing others of harassment, let the words here sink in and just take a day or two to think about your own attendance and dependability. Maybe the message somebody sent you is justified and the best thing that could actually have happened.

All the best!

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