Called in … Tired?

Shawnee Love   •  
January 18, 2017

A manager recently told me about a new hire who on day 4 of work …

Called in TIRED!Sleeping pup

Not sick, just worn out and wouldn’t be in till he rested up.  The employee was aiming for 10 AM or so.

True story.  In fact, I have heard similar types of complaints from managers a lot recently.  In the spirit of helping managers prepare for what managing throws at them, this blog discusses how to handle questionable work ethic.

For starters, I see work ethic as a performance issue.  As with any performance issue, as a manager you have options.  You can (in no particular order):

  • Coach,
  • Educate,
  • Discipline (warn or suspend),
  • Terminate, or
  • Turn a blind eye.

You could also mock, shame, harangue or isolate, but those behaviours are definitely not conduct becoming of a manager. Don’t do them!

Worst case, the employee knows what’s expected and just doesn’t give a damn and the sooner you exit that person the better.

However, with younger workers, we can’t be so sure an employee understands what’s expected.  More often, this type of performance issue demonstrates a misunderstanding between a manager’s expectations and the employee’s past experience and/or understanding of what is required.  We live in times where the majority of workers entering the workforce have a limited understanding of traditional expectations associated with work ethic.  Things like a good attitude, taking initiative, and dependability i.e., showing up (!!), being ready to start work (at the workstation when the shift begins), staying till finished, and so on, are not taught at schools and in homes.  So what’s a company to do?

Frankly, the burden falls upon companies who want good work ethic to teach it.  It is up to employers to teach their new hires (particularly the young ones) what work ethic norms exist in their organizations.  Make work ethic part of the orientation and hold people accountable for that work ethic throughout their employment with you.

In this situation, if someone “calls in tired”, I would want to be certain that I had taught the employee my expectations on showing up for work and what happens to those who don’t.  Once I was confident employees know my expectations, then I have little sympathy for someone “calling in tired” (unless there were extenuating circumstances such as a pregnancy or illness) no matter what stage of career the employee was in.

Have you encountered the “call in tired” phenomenon?  What did you do?