“I would have terminated this person immediately if I had not visited his home. I think we should give him some time for improvement.” I was referring the chronic absenteeism case with other management team members in the organization. It was year 2001 and union was very strong in unit. I had no problem to take serious actions against irritant employees and handle the IR issues consequent to that; but this case was totally different. The employee in question was working as an operator. He used to remain absent very often. Even he never worked 240 days in previous year. The operator was good in his work and even his attitude was not an issue.
I decided to go in detail. During the counseling session, I came to know about his family obligations and problems he was facing. I decided to visit his home. When I went at his home the scene was very horrible.
His father was on bed. His wife was suffering from chronic asthma. Mother could not do any work due joint pains. As his father was on bed, he could not focus on his farm. His two kids were kicked out by the school because of their poor attendance and non payment of school fees.
I decided to give a try. I asked company doctor to attend his parents and wife. They needed extra care so were hospitalized. Along with the operator I met school headmistress and requested her to reconsider the case of his children. We sanctioned the special loan for his school fees and medical care of his family. He also was able to pay the electricity cess; electricity in his farm was restored. We granted special leave of again 8 days for settling. Slowly everything came in line.
This operator bagged the best attendance award in next year.
You also must have encountered with such cases. We always make our opinion on first hand information and take a decision on this. Perhaps I would have taken the disciplinary action against this operator if I would have not gone in detail. During the hard time nobody comes for the help, neither union nor his colleagues tried to represent his case in right perspective. Union office bearers were using this issue as one of the issues to fight with the management. They never tried to help this particular operator.
I am sure that if we would have terminated this person, union must have made the issue for their benefit and other side, I would have lost my control. I didn’t want to give the credit of the same to the union. At another side, I was able to gain the confidence of other operators also.
I am not sure whether the approach which I used in above case will work always, but at least we can have detail analysis of the case and take a call on such cases.