Less absenteeism is what every organization wants. And there is a quick fix. But that requires guts and discipline from managers.
Attention, understanding and respect
‘What did the coaching program get you?’, I recently asked a coachee. ‘The most important thing for me is that we had one conversation together with my manager, which made him understand me better. He gained more insight into my drives, thinking styles, talents and (limiting) beliefs. And he has since shown more interest in me as a person and colleague. He now seeks me out more often to ask how I’m doing and does his best to show commitment to my work. For the past 12 years it felt like he didn’t see me, there was no personal contact or attention. Now it feels like he hears and sees me. I now feel recognized as a valuable employee through more and real contact.’
This response reminded me of a the painting No signal on the beach by Wie Han Kwan. In it we see people wandering around blindfolded. They have no signal, no connection. So they walk by touch with their hands forward. They know they are not alone, however, they do not see each other. They are close to each other but keep their distance without social and physical contact. Should there be connection, they do not need to grope, there is online contact between people. However, even then they still walk guided by digital signals, like voluntary slave prisoners. Unaware of giving up their freedom and not taking off the blindfold. Hypnotized by an invisible force that makes social and physical contact impossible. Let alone conversation.
Importance of good relationships
Social and physical contact is important to build and maintain good relationships. Because every person wants to be heard and seen and have the feeling of belonging. And if that is not the case, it is bad for your health and your perception of happiness. As psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the 5th director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development (a study that has followed the same people for more than 75 years) claims. And his conclusion, “good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being. And why don’t we apply this “ancient wisdom“? Because building good relationships takes time. It’s hard work, with disagreements, bickering and squabbling. And it’s lifelong. However, people prefer a “quick fix. Being efficient with your time without all kinds of hassles.
But the “quick fix” doesn’t work. The pursuit of fame, wealth and success tempt people to not spend enough time with the people around them. We sit behind a screen too much. We don’t show enough genuine interest. “How are you really doing?” a coachee recently asked a relation of hers. The result was surprising. She hadn’t had such a good conversation in two years.
Less absenteeism through a good conversation
Guido Welter is director of the National Platform for Sustainable Employability (NPDI). This organization, together with TNO, has developed the Cost Benefit Tool Sustainable Employability to demonstrate the influence of relevant employability factors on productivity. And moreover, which measures help to increase sustainable employability and productivity in organizations and also prevent absenteeism. During a presentation by Welter, he explained the most important factor in preventing staff absenteeism and optimizing productivity. That, in addition to investing in development and career, is above all having good conversations with your staff. According to the NPDI, ‘A good conversation between employee and manager (or HR) is crucial to know where everyone’s needs lie. Pay attention to all employees and their needs. Also important: good information about where the organization wants to go and what opportunities and space exist to work on sustainable employability. Regular personal meetings with employees, individual plans to improve sustainable employability and personal budgets that help make customization possible.’
Quick fix for less absenteeism
Every person wants to be heard, to be seen and to belong. If employees feel that this is not the case then they start to feel unhappy. They become mentally unbalanced. The risk of illness and absenteeism increases, and productivity decreases. That seems like another quick fix for supervisors and HR managers. Organize good conversations. Good conversations that reveal needs, in which plans are made for development and employability. Plans tailored to individual qualities and appropriate to the organization. In this way, an employee acquires meaning in the organization.
That seems like a quick fix. No training needed. No expensive programs to set up. Just the guts to ask ‘How are you doing now?’ And then the discipline to shut up and listen. Oh yes, and make sure you are otherwise ‘unreachable’ for digital signals!
And do you need help understanding a person’s motivations, thinking styles, talents and limiting beliefs? I can quickly fix that for you.
Wie Han Kwan combines elements of classical painting technique with a cartoonish illustration-inspired style. His paintings form hushed narratives that leave room for different interpretations.