When Employees Call In Sick

Soapbox time.   The below was posted on a Walmart employee site and generated hundreds of comments:

I’m pissed right now.

When i call in its rare. Just hit my 3 yr mark. Like I really hate calling In it makes me nervous and sick to my stomach.
Me- hi xxx mgr it’s me ***** and I’m calling out today because. ..
Mgr- cuts me off in middle of sentence, ok, bye, click. Hangs up phone.
I’m so sick of this place.
Ps I’ve only ever called in sick 3 times in 3 years of being there, always do them favors, work extra, stay late. I’m done.

This has always been a sore subject for me.  I’ve had lower management working for me who would give an employee a hard time when they called in–“Do you know we’re shorthanded?”  “What’s wrong with you?”  “Come on, can’t you at least try to come in?” and so on.   Inevitably the employee came to me (often with a doctor’s note) and was upset that their sick call was being questioned.

One of the responses said something to the effect of “You have to understand, the manager is under a lot of stress, could be short-staffed and might not have time to give you a nice response so don’t be upset if we don’t shi* rainbows when you call.”    In my opinion, being short-staffed does not excuse rudeness or treating an employee like that, just as it wouldn’t excuse being rude to a customer.  No one is asking anyone for rainbows, just another 5 seconds to say “OK, hope you feel better soon.”  That’s all that is needed.   Obviously if the employee calls out frequently (oh, say every Saturday night) it might call for a different approach, i.e. “OK, hope you feel better soon, when you return to work we will have to discuss your attendance” but even that isn’t completely necessary.  Deal with it when they return.

The bottom line is this–most employees feel bad enough calling in sick, don’t make it any worse.   If you can’t deal with being short-staffed and having people come in late and call out sick, you shouldn’t be working in retail.