Friday, January 07, 2011

Operator’s absenteeism: Misconduct, but why?

“I would have terminated this person immediately if I had not visited his home. I think we should give him some time for improvement.” I was referring the chronic absenteeism case with other management team members in the organization. It was year 2001 and union was very strong in unit. I had no problem to take serious actions against irritant employees and handle the IR issues consequent to that; but this case was totally different. The employee in question was working as an operator. He used to remain absent very often. Even he never worked 240 days in previous year. The operator was good in his work and even his attitude was not an issue.

I decided to go in detail. During the counseling session, I came to know about his family obligations and problems he was facing. I decided to visit his home. When I went at his home the scene was very horrible.

His father was on bed. His wife was suffering from chronic asthma. Mother could not do any work due joint pains. As his father was on bed, he could not focus on his farm. His two kids were kicked out by the school because of their poor attendance and non payment of school fees.

I decided to give a try. I asked company doctor to attend his parents and wife. They needed extra care so were hospitalized. Along with the operator I met school headmistress and requested her to reconsider the case of his children. We sanctioned the special loan for his school fees and medical care of his family. He also was able to pay the electricity cess; electricity in his farm was restored. We granted special leave of again 8 days for settling. Slowly everything came in line.

This operator bagged the best attendance award in next year.

You also must have encountered with such cases. We always make our opinion on first hand information and take a decision on this. Perhaps I would have taken the disciplinary action against this operator if I would have not gone in detail. During the hard time nobody comes for the help, neither union nor his colleagues tried to represent his case in right perspective. Union office bearers were using this issue as one of the issues to fight with the management. They never tried to help this particular operator.

I am sure that if we would have terminated this person, union must have made the issue for their benefit and other side, I would have lost my control. I didn’t want to give the credit of the same to the union. At another side, I was able to gain the confidence of other operators also.    

I am not sure whether the approach which I used in above case will work always, but at least we can have detail analysis of the case and take a call on such cases.


Sivakumaar said...

Hi Vinod, I am sivakumaar, working in HR field, a silent observer of your articles.

Your approach is excellent with regard to this case.

According to me whatever we studied in Personnel Management, HRM and in Labour Laws are basic guidelines.

To be successful in HR field, the common sense and presence of mind are very important more than our studies. Also we should not get influenced by people while analysing a problem and this will help in taking a right decision.

Even i have done a lot of homevisits to chronic absentees and this have helped in bringing a positive work culture and positive impact among the family members.

Wish you all the very best for all your positive approaches.

Keep sharing.

Thanks & Regards,

K S Sivakumaar

Govind said...

Excellent work done.
When we are in HR and IR function, we should not take decision one sided. This tells true spirit of an HR professional.
The decision taken by copying what other does and taken in hurry is always harmful.
You gained confidence of the operator, other employees and created an excellent work culture

Vaishali Pargaonkar (Gandhi) said...



I feel this is the best example of having the 'human touch/ human element', while we all HR people are busy handling employee issues. Very often, HR forgets this most important ingredient and lands up being a slave of rules & regulations and policies that they have made supposedly for the benefit of the employees.
Employee issues need to be sometimes seen beyond these said policies.

Anonymous said...

Dear Vinod Sir,

You approcah is always positive in such cases. I must share the experience of mine, where I was asked to leave the copmany merely because of one senior person in the organization wanted to that.

When you asked the reasons, the person was not objective. You took a strong stand for me and my job was save. After six month, I was given the responsibility of one function and still I am doing well in the organization.

Surprisingly the said senior person is now out of the organization.

God bless you!

rajuda said...

It is often not the people, but the surroundings that trigger a problem. You believed in this adage, gave it a real try, and eventually ended up saving a career and a family. Congrats. I wish all those HR executives were as enterprising and empathetic as you.

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