Leave pol­icy has em­ployee feel­ing left hold­ing the bag

Albuquerque Journal - - BUSINESS OUTLOOK - Email Jea­nine “J.T.” Tan­ner O’Don­nell and Dale Dauten at jtand­dale.com or write to them in care of King Fea­tures Syn­di­cate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Fl, New York, 628 Vir­ginia Dr., Or­lando, FL 32803. (c) 2019 by King Fea­tures Syn­di­cate, Inc. Dale Dauten & Jea

Dear J.T. & Dale: My com­pany moved to un­lim­ited sick and va­ca­tion time. One co-worker has since shown up an av­er­age of three days a week. I find it so frus­trat­ing. My boss says as long as he gets his work done, it’s OK. But no­body’s keep­ing track of how his in­con­sis­tency makes my work more stress­ful. How can I point this out to my boss? — Ben­jamin

J.T.: These types of poli­cies are re­ally hard to keep ef­fec­tive for this very rea­son — once some­one feels an­other co-worker is abus­ing it, the re­sent­ment kicks in and things start to fall apart.

DALE: Which is why it’s time to change your out­look on work. Here, in the New Econ­omy, it isn’t your time at a desk that mat­ters but your pro­duc­tiv­ity. If your co-worker can do his job in three days a week, then it’s time for you to ex­am­ine your own work rou­tines and fig­ure out how to be equally ef­fi­cient. Then, if you’re am­bi­tious, you keep show­ing up and use your ex­tra time to in­no­vate or to vol­un­teer for cor­po­rate ini­tia­tives that will get you no­ticed.

J.T.: That’s a nice thought, but clearly Ben­jamin feels that his co­worker’s ab­sences are cre­at­ing stress. If that is just frus­tra­tion tinged with jeal­ousy, then per­haps I’ll agree with you. But, Ben­jamin, if you feel like your co-worker’s ab­sence is hurt­ing your pro­duc­tiv­ity, then you need to quan­tify it. The com­pany needs proof that his lack of of­fice time is mak­ing it harder for you to do your job. Doc­u­ment the im­pact for sev­eral weeks and then go to him and say: “I’m re­ally strug­gling with the im­pact your choices are hav­ing on my abil­ity to do my job. Can we dis­cuss ways to make sure that I’m getting what I need?” By hav­ing some open com­mu­ni­ca­tion with him, you can put things in place that make it a win-win. And maybe you get to the point where you can take bet­ter ad­van­tage of it too!

Dear J.T. & Dale: My of­fice at­tire is pro­fes­sional. As a woman, I’m ex­pected to wear heels ev­ery day. I re­cently was di­ag­nosed with some back pain and told to wear flats. How­ever, af­ter a week of do­ing so, my boss men­tioned that he didn’t like my ca­sual shoes. I told him about the di­ag­no­sis, and he brushed it off. Can he dic­tate what I wear? — Roberta

DALE: I saw this ques­tion and thought, sounds like a re­jected plot idea for a “Mad Men” episode. This can’t still be an is­sue, can it? Re­ally?

J.T.: Re­ally. And, as an at-will em­ployee, man­age­ment can dic­tate dress codes if it was made clear that it was a set ex­pec­ta­tion for work­ing there.

DALE: Not know­ing much about these things, I went on­line and found a primer on the 25 types of women’s heels — 25 types? — and all painful from the looks of them. So I coura­geously agreed to ac­com­pany my wife to a gi­ant shoe em­po­rium. We saw plenty of dressy shoes that seem com­fort­able. Maybe your boss will agree that the is­sue is not re­ally the heel ver­sus no heel, but rather dressi­ness ver­sus ca­su­al­ness.

J.T.: I’d be sur­prised if that worked. So, as a backup, get a doc­tor’s note that sup­ports the di­ag­no­sis. Ex­plain how long you’ll be in flats and ask for sug­ges­tions on what he feels would be ap­pro­pri­ate. I’d like to think he val­ues your work enough that he’ll sup­port you getting bet­ter. If not, then I’d se­ri­ously ques­tion whether you want to stay work­ing there. Is wors­en­ing your health worth it?

DALE: Agreed. And one more thought that your ques­tion pro­voked, Roberta: Look­ing back, it was the whole­sale en­trance of women into cor­po­rate ranks that opened up new cloth­ing op­tions for the cor­po­rate male. One look at a photo of cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives taken any time af­ter women started join­ing in, and it was clear that the old re­stric­tions on men — dark suit, white shirt, tie — were silly. So kick off those high heels, and I’ll toss away my tie, and we’ll get down to work to­gether.


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