I read an interesting case study in Human Capital magazine that was titled ‘hey! I put in my papers!”. The case study was about a brilliant engineer joining a big brand employer and leaving the organization within 2 years with dejected feelings. Among many unfortunate things that happened to this engineer, the most prominent was related to one of the most common problems in the organizations – employee leave and absenteeism. This engineer needed 1 months leave to prepare for his entrance exam to a business management school. Instead of being straight forward, he asked a leave on pretext of being ill. When he reported back, he was asked lots of explanations and was asked to report to HR. Whatever happened left him and others hurt . This incident prompted him to seek opportunities outside the organization. Lastly, he left – at a hefty 60% financial growth to one of the competitor.
Who lost – individual or the organization?
From my point of view this case seems to be related to poor leave management in the concerned organization, mostly due to lack of appropriate policy or tools to manage employee leaves. Leave is an important interpersonal issues for all employees, and each employee at some or other point of time have a situation where personal matters and organizational contingencies conflict.
Employees consider leaves as good right as their salary. However, high performance pressure and project delivery commitments constrain managers to freely grant leaves to employees as and when required. It is important for managers to deliver the projects in time but do managers really look at complete resource availability scenario or (for their comfort zone) just want to keep an employee tied to seat when he/she is completely absorbed into one of his/her personal problems. In such cases employees either report false sick (or some other pretext) or resort back by merely doing what is told, without adding any value to the project.
My experience says that most managers grant or deny leaves to their team members based on their gut feeling or general speculations. They avoid the pain of analyzing urgency of an employee’s personal requirement versus his current need at the project. It is a big task and many don’t have the right tools to handle this situation. What to do?
The only solution to this problem is to improve leave management system in the organization. Employee Self Service section of a good HR Software can improve efficiency of leave management by 50-60%. Employee while applying for leaves can view their leave history, balance leaves, and even know how many of their team members are on leave in the time he is applying for leave. The leave application moves to immediate supervisor who can look at the status of various project he manages and the resources required to meet the deadlines. He looks at the employee’s leave history, and also leaves of other team members in that duration. This provides holistic view of the requirements and resources needed to meet it. Thus manager can take better decision on an employee’s leave and possibly satisfy both the internal customer (employee) and the external customer (client). See more features of Employee Self Service.