“I Bet Tom Won’t Be In Today”

Do you have someone in your organization you work with that you just know won’t make it in on bad weather days? Or if there’s a project or assignment that they’ve made clear they have little buy-in and commitment to, you can assume they will be ill on that day? Are you right more than you are wrong?

Hmmmm….While this game of, “let’s guess who won’t be in today” isn’t really a healthy game for co-workers to play as it undermines confidence in each other, it does speak to patterns of behaviour which our co-workers notice and have picked up that doesn’t do much to enhance the image of the person being discussed.

Being part of a team; be it on the factory assembly line, the office or the sales group in a retail operation, comes with responsibilities to pull your weight and be counted on to do your job. So what happens when you aren’t present? Well the first thing of course is you’ve got a responsibility to notify your Supervisor or their delegated person to advise them of your absence. Most employers want you to contact them and speak with them directly – not their answering machine. The reason for this is so you are accountable, and they may need to ask you a few things like what your agenda was for the day and any special instructions you need to pass on to someone who will cover your work.

The ripple effect that your call sets off goes something like this: the Boss gets the call and has to divert energy and time determining how best to cover your responsibilities with the least disruption to the rest of the employees. At least one other employee, and often several, now must adjust their planned activity for the day to account for your absence. This might mean anything from having no replacement and have to do their own work plus yours, doing your work entirely at the expense of theirs, or getting together a group of people to take smaller chunks of what you had to do that day and divide up your work.

While everybody is generally away the odd time, let’s face the fact that there are some people who take more time than others and it isn’t always legitimate illness or factors beyond their control. I myself worked with a woman once who I could pretty much tell wouldn’t be in to work when snow flurries were called for the day before. Sure enough, roads would be bare, snowflakes would be falling beautifully and she’d have called in absent.

The adverse impact this can have on co-workers may not be something that you’re all that concerned about if you really aren’t a team player. You may also see your job as something you do for money and because you’re not there to make friends, it doesn’t concern you in the least if you aren’t popular. However, you may find over time that when others feel you can’t be counted on with respect to your attendance and punctuality, that this mistrust expands to other areas too – and these other areas may be of deep interest to you. That’s when you might say to yourself that things are unfair and see things as two separate issues, but your co-workers see as entirely related and your on the outs.

Now if you truly find weather conditions and your level of confidence as a driver for example to be life-threatening, then by all means no one would expect you to attempt the drive in. Is there another way however for you to still get to work such as hitching a ride with a more confident driver or public transit? In other words, seeing the weather and driving conditions as a problem, use your problem-solving skills to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve packing in the entire day.

You know I also worked many years ago with someone who had a four-day work week while the rest of us worked five days a week. Oh it wasn’t official of course, but we all knew that once the summer started, this person’s attendance on Fridays or Mondays would fall off almost consistently to the point where we could predict it. And the impact on our group was that the rest of us planned things a little lighter on those two days in the event that we had to cover this person’s work. After all, rather than scrambling to cancel our own appointments, why not just make fewer of them or schedule them for the p.m. instead of the a.m. which would buy us time to contact our clients?

While some sit at home sipping their cocoa or pleasantly sleeping in and then after a leisurely breakfast move to the couch to do some serious recreational reading and don’t give what goes on in the workplace a second thought or care, I believe there are others who do care about the impact their absence has on other employees and make all efforts to come in. When these people are away from work, their co-workers are only to happy to pitch-in and cover because it doesn’t happen frequently, and those away cover for them when the situation is reversed.

If you are at all concerned about getting ahead, being appreciated at work, building a positive reputation, and truly being a team player, do your very best to live up to the expectations that your job description details. Hold yourself to a high personal standard of ethical behaviour.

Oh but if you’re really ill….stay home! Nobody wants to get what you’ve got to share!


2 thoughts on ““I Bet Tom Won’t Be In Today”

  1. Many of those who miss work in bad weather may be doing it since schools often close at the slightest hint of bad weather; working parents live at the mercy of the school system. For others who live far away from the office, even rain could double commuting time, so they’d have a lot more working hours if they could work from home. Not every job can be done remotely, but doesn’t it make sense to let people work flexibly as long as they get their work done? Of course for someone who works on a factory line, or in a retail store, this may not work, but many office positions could and should be allow workers to be flexible in their hours and working location.


    1. While I respect your right to hold your opinion, I can’t say I agree with your position. I myself have a 1 hour and five minute commute over 95 km’s to get to work on a good day. On a daily basis, I leave an hour and a half in order to avoid being late on those few days when I run into poor weather, accidents or detours. As for parents with children, my wife and I had back up plans in place in the event that schools were closed; that’s just good planning in action. However I really am glad you weighed in with your views. Thanks!


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