You’ve heard some bad excuses for missing work. Now’s the time for HR to turn the tables – and give employees great reasons to come to work.
The workplace has a bad rap lately, prompting many employees to rebel a bit. Some have refused to come back to the office. Others have come in begrudgingly. Some are Quiet Quitting, which might lead managers to Quiet Firing.
Here’s what’s especially troubling: The search volume for “excuses to miss work” increased by 600% in the past four years, according to data collected by The Frank Recruitment Group.
“Seeing search volumes jump so drastically … seems to coincide with the beginning of the return to [the] office which tells us that this hasn’t been the easiest transition for everybody,” says Rowan O’Grady, president of Americas at Frank Recruitment Group. “The important thing, of course, is not to try and ‘go back to normal’ but to go forward to a healthier tomorrow.”
Now leaders want to give employees great reasons to come to work, regardless of whether it’s on-site all the time, in hybrid fashion or remotely (because even remote employees are searching for reasons to call off work).
You can’t fake this either. HR pros and everyone in leadership needs to give employees great reasons to come back to work. Here are four to work on now:
Build the balance
Employees struggled with work/life balance before and during the pandemic. Nothing has changed. Perhaps, it has only escalated.
“Employers must find a balance amongst competing interests – revenue recovery and employee well-being,” says Dr. Shané Teran, a wellness coach and organizational development strategist at SP Consulting.
Dr. Teran suggests HR leaders work with employees to:
- hire creatively for practical roles that make workloads more manageable across teams
- automate as much as possible to improve organizational workflow, and
- manage well-being resources so employees can access them easier.
The key: “Involving staff in co-design processes for these kinds of measures is particularly worthwhile and effective. If employees can play a part in ideation and even implementation, they’re more likely to feel seen, heard and therefore engaged,” Dr. Teran says.
One of the great reasons to come to work: feeling the love.
Employees who are recognized for their individual efforts and team contributions at work, are nearly 10 times more likely to feel they belong at their organization, a Gallup and Workhuman study found.
“For a long time, employee well-being was oftentimes considered a ‘bonus’ or ‘nice to have’ for organizations looking toward significant growth and financial success,” says Scott Dussault, chief financial officer at Workhuman. “Times have changed – with quiet quitting and disengagement running rampant – leaders should be turning to employee recognition to increase engagement, productivity, inclusivity and overall loyalty to their companies.”
When employees are lauded, they feel they belong at work instead of making up excuses to avoid the workplace.
Many organizations have annual or semi-annual recognition events. But more people need more recognition more often. Look for ways to build recognition and rewards into daily or weekly activities. For instance, add a virtual or physical kudos board where employees give each other shout-outs for outstanding work or extra help.
Update the attitude
Employees Google “excuses to miss work” for a reason.
“A number of people are not experiencing the grace and understanding from employers that they need; which leads to a resolve of faking it but escaping by any means necessary,” Dr. Teran says. “[Some] likely feel that they do not have a supervisor or organization culture in which they can freely take time off without being met with ridicule or challenge.”
Ideally, an attitude update on when, how and why people take time off comes from the top. Try to get C-Suite leaders to talk about the importance of self-care. Even better, ask them to share examples of how they practice it (which hopefully includes taking vacation and/or mental well-being time off).
If an attitude update won’t work for you, try a policy update. Move away from “sick time,” “vacation time” and/or “personal time” to a general Paid Time Off (PTO) policy with fewer hard rules and more general guidelines.
Make work fun
People go to amusement parks, concerts and fairs for one good reason: They’re fun. And after the fun, people talk about the experience.
While you don’t need to bring in roller coasters and magicians, you do need to make the workplace more fun. One trending idea: More board games.
Some organizations are adding libraries of games to their break rooms. Others are working with local game board cafes, which offer facilities, time, food and beverages so employees can gather around fun and not screens.
“Using board games to create fun moments or work-time play will break down silos and have employees/managers from different departments work together to solve problems in a high-humor low stakes environment,” says Matt Hendricks, principal at Hanabi Holdings, which owns and operates Thirsty Dice Board Game Cafe and Twenty One Pips Kitchen & Game. “While game play can be fun, it has real impact on how people treat each other in the office.”
Hendricks offers these benefits of games for fun in the office, plus suggestions on games to achieve each benefit:
- Accessibility. For most games, everyone is a novice and playing on the same level. Board games often require lateral thinking which encourages dialogue. Try: Werewords by Bezier Games.
- Simplicity. Most board games don’t have complicated rules or require awkward role playing. Try: The Mind from Pandasaurus Games.
- Relationship building. You can build teams from different groups or work functions to build camaraderie. Try: Reverse Charades from USAopoly.