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Tough Call: Too tough to be sick?

Tough Call: Too tough to be sick?

Your general manager views calling in sick as a sign of weakness—not common sense. What would you do?

As the owner of a lumberyard in the dead center of the U.S., in a state that hasn’t been slammed by the coronavirus, you and your company are very fortunate. With an even mix of homeowners/DIYers and pro customers, your retail business has stayed strong, and since most builders are able to maintain social distancing protocols on the jobsite, your sales are virtually flat with last year. The modifications you’ve had to make to your operations have been inconvenient—but, they’ve enabled you to keep your doors open. In your opinion, you’ve been lucky.

But not everyone on your team sees it that way. In fact, two weeks ago you overheard Matt, your general manager, talking with a handful of team members and customers. “This whole thing is just a hoax perpetrated by the liberal media to destroy our economy,” he stated. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it. And I refuse to change a thing about how I operate.”

This led to you having to replay a talk with Matt about sharing his opinions with others at work, especially anything related to politics. Even though your political views align pretty closely with his, you made it clear that sharing deeply held beliefs is not worth alienating customers and coworkers. The fact that the president has declared this a public health emergency should make it real enough for him. He grudgingly agreed and promised to let it be.

And that was that. Until today, that is. Matt came into your office to share his concerns about team members taking advantage of the current situation to use up their paid sick leave. “I haven’t taken even one sick day since joining this company 18 years ago. I don’t think it’s right that some of our people are staying home when I’m sure they’re well enough to work,” he explained.

“I love my job and take it seriously, that’s why I come into work regardless how I’m feeling. In fact, I’m not feeling that great today, but you don’t see me using that as an excuse to stay home.”

For years, an attitude like that may have been okay, but today, with health concerns on high alert, it’s critical that people stay home if they’re sick. You appreciate Matt’s toughness and loyalty, but are determined to do all you can to keep Matt and the rest of your crew healthy. What would you say to Matt?

“GO HOME!” Emphasize that you need him and the rest of your team healthy. Anyone who doesn’t feel well must stay home. Period.

“THANKS, BUT…” Tell Matt that you appreciate his loyalty and toughness, but this virus is serious, and if he loves his job, then he’ll stay home until he’s feeling better.

“WE NEED TO TRUST.” Assure Matt that he, as your GM, has built a solid, trustworthy team. If they’re using paid sick time, it’s for a valid reason.

“WE’RE LUCKY.” Share stories with Matt about communities that have been hit hard by the virus. The smart bet to stay lucky is to take this seriously. If you’re sick, stay home.

What would you do?

If you’d take a different plan of attack, email your suggested solution to James@LBMJournal.com. If we publish your reply, we’ll send you an LBM Journal mug.