Friday 8 March 2013

Taking one for the team

Bradford has been in the news quite a bit recently. This neighbouring city to Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, has seen hard times following the de-industrialisation of the area, but a few good news stories have put it back on the map in recent months.

Firstly, there was the football team's amazing run in the Capital One League Cup. Having beaten a string of clubs from the Premier League (Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa), the lowly League 2 side only ran out of steam at the last hurdle, losing 5-0 to Swansea in the final at Wembley.

Then, last week, none other than the Caped Crusader handed in a fugitive at a local police station. Honestly, you couldn't make it up. However, it later transpired that the Batman in question was known to the wanted man.

So, what has all this got to do with yours truly? Not much, as it happens, although...

Way back in the 1980s, research into worker absenteeism was being carried out at Bradford University (coincidentally, this was the very academic establishment that a younger, more science-smitten, Tenselet was due to attend to study Pharmacy/Pharmocology. But that is, as they most definitely say, another story).

Any road up, a human resources tool bearing the Bradford name was subsequently developed to highlight the different levels of disruption in performance between frequent short-term absence and single instances of prolonged absence. If I understand the concept correctly, this was originally intended to be used by HR staff to better appreciate the resultant effect on the whole company. However, there seem to be numerous reported instances where it is instead used to target individual members of staff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating frequent "duvet days" or institutionalised malingering. Hell, no. As a manager in a small department where staff resourcing can be changed daily at best, or even (cringe) hourly, the ability to accurately plan ahead for the best manpower solution is a distant Nirvana.

On the other hand, using this tool too bluntly is always going to discriminate against anyone with a chronic illness, compared to another employee who, say, breaks their leg whilst skiing. This is no subtle knife.

Even dedicated, normally healthy staff are going to succumb to the odd bout of short term illness. With Bradford Scoring in place, they have several stark choices:

  • ring in sick and take the mathematical consequences;
  • book precious holiday to disguise the time off;
  • go to work anyway and infect the rest of the workforce. 

Personally, I would prefer my staff to use their holiday entitlement to have a proper break. To be able to recharge their batteries, lift up their spirits and spend a relaxing time with their loved ones. In this way they would arrive back at work full of vim, vigour and motivation to do well and work hard.

Being easily bored by having nothing to do and nurturing a zero tolerance attitude to daytime tv, I have often gone to work when I should've stayed at home for the sake of my health. However, if the ailment is contagious, then exporting your illness to the rest of the department or wider working community is not going to do anyone any favours, neither your colleagues nor your company.

So today I am at home, racking up the numbers with a miserable cold. Bradford may not appreciate it, but at least my work mates will.


Tales of a Bank Vole said...

Ah,sickly Tenselet, hense the reason for the ghostly apparition at my front door.

As it happens I had a number of friends at Bradford University during the 70's with whom I stayed on a number of occassions (and where I nearly died of curry - but that also is another story).I can confirm therefore that if any institution was well placed to study absenteeism then it's Bradford Uni

Imperfect and Tense said...

Sounds like I had a lucky escape...

Martin said...

Well said.
I also tend to go in, and I don't exactly have a job where days and hours are counted. In fact if I manage to come close to my annual holiday allowance I have probably been fiddling the books somewhere!
Thankfully I haven't broken a leg skiing yet, although the moguls on Sunday were less friendly than Media Moguls...

Imperfect and Tense said...

"less friendly than MMs", that's not very friendly at all, is it?

Many apologies, I should've used a different analogy, what with your pending hol and all :o(