You Make The Calls

Absent Without Leave

As a small-business owner, you rely heavily on the few employees you have. But what happens when employees don't show up for work? Of course there are legitimate reasons to be absent, but when your key employee starts calling in sick every Friday during ski season, it's time to take action. Here's how:

  • Set a good example. In a small office, employees know when the boss doesn't show up on time. Be prompt, and whenever you're out of the office for any reason, let employees know where you are and how you can be reached.
  • Look within. Are there good reasons employees are shirking work? Perhaps your productivity goals are unrealistic or your office is uncomfortable. A few simple adjustments can get people excited about working for you.
  • Be flexible. When an employee asks for time off due to stress, family problems or personal needs, use your judgment. An employee is more likely to respect your attendance policy if you show you understand his or her needs.
  • Offer rewards. Give an extra vacation day or a small cash bonus to reward an employee for excellent attendance.
  • Be prepared. Establish a relationship with a temporary employment agency that can provide backup when a key employee is absent.

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This article was originally published in the April 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: You Make The Calls.

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