To view this newsletter in French, click here 
June 2018
Greetings everyone! We’re enjoying the springtime sunshine, and speaking of heat… the hot topic around the PFHR offices definitely remains Cannabis legalization. We’ve been overwhelmed with the demand for our policy development sessions, but as we’ve been preparing for them we were reminded of the relationship between absenteeism and substance dependency.  Absenteeism may be your first ‘clue’ to something not being right at home or work for your employees, and accordingly, it’s our June topic.  As always, please do reach out to us if we can be of assistance, or if you have any feedback.
Ask the Expert
Absenteeism: are your employees sick, or just sick of being there? 
Todd Nadeau, People First HR Services
The most recent data from the Conference Board of Canada estimates that employee absenteeism cost Canadian companies $16.6 billion in 2012.  Additionally, the average full-time Canadian worker was absent from work 9.3 days in 2011.  That’s almost two weeks of work (and it doesn’t include authorized absences and vacation time)!  While staying healthy in cold and flu season is a very real challenge, and we should be encouraging our teams to stay home when they’re sick to recover, we know that absences aren’t always about germs.

Employee absences can sometimes act as a barometer of sorts for employers on how our people are feeling about their work. When it comes to absenteeism, we can make a couple of generalizations: Staff who are engaged in their work are more likely to have regular attendance; and staff who may be struggling at work or at home have more absences.  Of course, a follow up conversation with the employee to ensure our assumptions are correct needs is crucial, but absenteeism is often a first symptom that an employee may be experiencing challenges.
"Employee absences can sometimes act as a barometer of sorts for employers on how our people are feeling about their work."
When employers are thinking about how to manage absences, there are a few practices that will ensure that small problems don’t become big ones.

Track absences:  Whether it is sick time, vacation days, or personal days, employers need to make sure they are tracking employee leave correctly.  People want to get paid appropriately, and employers need to be able to spot a trend or problem.  That at-a-glance spreadsheet of missed time allows you to quickly identify someone who has seemingly caught the ‘Friday flu’, and also supports ensuring staff are scheduling vacation time to avoid burnout.  The same tracker will help you manage short and longer term sick leaves and help you plan for staff coverage. If your payroll system doesn’t include tracking of these hours, keep a separate log.

Policy and process matters:  When employees are provided with information at their orientation/during onboarding on what to do when they need to be absent it supports the creation of an environment of transparency. Employees should know who to call when they’re sick, how much sick time they have, what other leaves are available, and what the accommodation policies are.  Keep them in the loop about how schedules are made in order to ensure they know how work is assigned.  Well-informed staff are more likely to understand how their absences impact their colleagues and think twice about calling in sick.
Don’t ignore it:  If there is a pattern of absence, plan a conversation. It may be nothing, but this employee may need help, and providing the opportunity for the conversation allows the employee to ask for help, and for the employer to share what resources are available.

Be open, and ready to respond:  When we ask our people to give us feedback on why they don’t want to be at work we’ve got to be ready to listen.  We can be quick to assume that the employee is ‘at fault’ for their absences, but absenteeism can also indicate a workplace culture that needs some healing.   You may have a harassment or bullying situation you weren’t aware of, or perhaps an employee is having substance abuse issues, or is involved in an unhealthy relationship.  Employers are responsible to respond appropriately in these situations.

Ask for help:  Managers and employers may need to seek out guidance and resources to ensure they are supporting staff who need support or reasonable accommodation. They also may need support in managing the performance of staff who simply may not want to be there.  This is one of the times when @Your Service  is there for you and your business – just give us a call for ideas and guidance!

Ultimately, patterns of absenteeism provide us with information about how our people are doing, and measuring them allows us one more tool to support effective Human Resource management.
Our Expert

Todd Nadeau
Practice Leader, HR@ Your Service
People First HR Services

What's on at PFHR

Need information on Cannabis legalization and how it impacts your workplace?  Do you have a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Policy in place?  Want to get both in one half day session?!

Due to popular demand we’ve added another ‘Be Ready for Cannabis Legalization Policy Development Workshop’.

New date: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 from 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM in our Winnipeg office.
For $299 you’ll receive:
  • A comprehensive drug and alcohol policy template, training, and in-session support to customize the policy to your organization’s needs.
  • If you have an existing policy, People First will review it prior to your attending the session to highlight any gaps. 
  • Training on Cannabis legalization, reasonable accommodation as it relates to medical marijuana and addictions and best practices when building policy.
To register contact Kim Hunter at or at 204.938.4065

HR Bookmarks

Website to check out this month

This month’s HR bookmark focuses on resources to promote mental health.  For small employers who may not have an EAP, or for those who simply seek to learn more about mental health, the Canadian Mental Health Association has a great site with lots of easy to understand resources.
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Winnipeg, MB R3P 2T5

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PeopleFirst HR Services · 1403 Kenaston Blvd · Winnipeg, Mb R3P 2T5 · Canada

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