Friday, 31 July 2015

Absence management - how to Motivate your People on Mondays and Fridays

Anyone who uses our online absence software, Activ Absence,  will tell you that the most popular report managers run is the days of the week report.
That's because once people start looking at how their people perform, the first thing they notice is that staff are more likely to take a sick day on a Monday or a Friday.
It's common sense if you think about it, either day makes a weekend longer!
Sickies on these days are not just about people deliberately extending their weekend - its about years of culture that reinforce negative stereotypes we hold already about Mondays and Fridays.  
Any look in popular culture will throw up a list of songs related to the Monday Blues - how many can you name?  Here's a few for starters:
  • Manic Monday ♪ the Bangles
  • Rainy Days and Mondays ♪ the Carpenters
  •  I don't like Mondays ♪ the Boomtown Rats
As for Friday, its hard to get motivated or focussed when its all about the weekend:
  • Last Friday Night ♪ Katy Perry
  • Thank God It's Friday ♪ Nikki Williams
  • Friday on my Mind ♪ Easybeats
So, apart from the obvious benefits of absence management software, which will help you identify patterns and trends in your staff absence, how can you tackle a century of Monday - Friday culture that gets reinforced at every turn?
The secret is in acceptance - you can't change the world, so embrace it and (my favourite phrase!) turn it into a win - that way, when the world works the way it always does, it will be working for you!
We have a quick team meeting on a Monday.  It gives us an opportunity to get together and set goals for the week.  We establish a clear plan for who is doing what.  I personally struggle if we don't have a meeting, it helps me focus on the week ahead.
The meeting is also a chance for us to have a quick chat, to catch up with each other and 'sympathise' with one another that the weekend has ended.  A big round of applause to my boss Adrian who always makes sure that we have milk for the inevitable dose of caffeine that all of us need on a Monday!  
If people know there is a meeting and their absence from that meeting will a) be noted and b) affect the whole week, they are less likely to take a sick day - and that's reinforced by a friendly, supportive atmosphere in our Monday meetings (save any major issues for a one-on-one later in the week!)
Of course, Friday is another story, everyone is relaxed and ready for the weekend and there is just a little temptation to start it early.
At Activ Absence, we know that everyone naturally views Friday as a 'special' day - the weekend is coming and it's hard to get people motivated about work.  
Adrian motivates us on a Friday with Lidl's beautiful blueberry muffins, reinforcing our tendency to treat Friday as a 'special' day. (If you haven't tried Lidl's blueberry muffins, the fresh ones from the bakery, you are missing out bigtime!)
The price of a muffin has engaged our team for minimal cost and as such our team see 'us' as a special place to work.  Its a part of our culture.  Indeed we've engaged others too, we're known among our suppliers and Twitter fans as 'the muffin people', because we tweet about #muffinfriday (its more fun and says more about our staff culture than 'happy Friday'!)  
So is it just a muffin and a meeting that defines our culture?  No, but they do help us feel included and engaged, because they reinforce beliefs we held about weekends already.  It certainly makes for a pleasant atmosphere at work, but am I looking forward to the weekend?  You bet I am.  
You'll notice I'm writing this on Friday, and yes, I have that delicious muffin in my hand (at least I did when I was writing the first line, I don't have that much self-control!)  I'm off camping and hoping I have a great weekend, but if I bump into anyone at all who could be interested in what we do here, I will gladly tell them, I love our company, our people and our culture and I'm proud of what we achieve here every week.  
Am I looking forward to Monday? Of course not, I'm human, too!  However, I will be attending my team meeting, planning my week, and looking forward to seeing my work colleagues and hearing about their weekends.  Yes, we'll whine about Monday and console ourselves with coffee for the first 5 minutes - but soon we will be bouncing ideas off each other in the team meeting, go away with a great weekly plan and of course.... looking forward to Winesday on Wednesday (its a Wales thing!)

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