When Employees Exploit Bad Policy, Everybody Loses
Not long after I had been given my first real supervisory role I was faced with my first challenge. The company policy gave everyone one paid sick day each month, and one of the employees would always, and I mean always, call in sick the first Monday of the month. When I confronted the employee about the issue, they stated that they felt it was their right to take the day off regardless of whether or not they were actually ill. After all, the company made the sick day available, why should it go to waste?
The issue of course was that not everyone felt that way. Some people in the organization felt that if you were not ill, you should be at work. Others went so far as to state to me flatly that anyone who took a sick day when they were not ill was stealing from the company, and demanded that I take punitive action. Then there were those that felt that they were losing out on a free day off simply because they were unwilling to be dishonest, creating a huge dilemma between their ethics and their desires. The bottom line was that everyone was unhappy, all because of a bad policy that left way too much room for individual interpretation.
Most organization have remedied this particular issue by transitioning away from policies that create separate Sick Time and Vacation Time allotments to those that combine the two into one blanket Paid Time Off policy, eliminating the need for anyone to lie about their reasons for missing work. But this same sort of behavior can be very difficult for a supervisor to detect with field employees unless the right oversight measures are in place. We recently uncovered a situation where a crew of 4 workers and 2 trucks had taken to the habit of spending the last two hours of each day cruising around town rather than working, and since they were showing up back at the shop at the same time as everyone else, the boss was clueless. The other employees knew what they were doing though, and their bad behavior was rapidly spreading discontent through the ranks. Some of the other employees were mad at the boss for not taking action, while others began extending their lunch breaks and leaving the work site earlier as well. The additional supervisory layer of a GPS fleet monitoring solution went a long way towards solving this particular problem, since the boss could at least verify that the workers had stayed at the work site until the end of their shift.
Most employees want management to make sure everyone is being treated fairly, and establishing policies and oversight that prevent bad behaviors from spreading can go a long way towards achieving that goal.