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Dealing with Sudden Employee Absence: Step-by-Step

Young professional discusses an unexpected leave of absence with his manager.

Don’t let an unexpected employee absence catch you by surprise. Here’s how to handle the news with class and prepare for the future.

One of your top performers walks into your office one morning and drops a bomb. There’s a family emergency and he needs some time off—effective immediately. An unexpected employee absence isn’t exactly how you wanted to start your Tuesday, is it? Instead of panicking, here’s what you should do:

  • Step 1 – Express Empathy
  • Step 2 – Offer to Help
  • Step 3 – Tactfully Review Policy
  • Step 4 – Find Qualified Temporary Staffing

Now, let’s explore each step in a little more detail so you’ll know exactly what to do the next time this happens, or how to successfully cope with your current situation.

Step 1 – Express Empathy

As a good manager (and good person), your first instinct should be one of concern—not for yourself, but for the difficult situation your team member now finds himself in. Before you react, put yourself in his shoes. How would you feel if the roles were reversed? Remember, if given a choice between coming to work every day and dealing with a crisis—whatever it may be—most employees would much rather report for duty.

Step 2 – Offer to Help

Maybe your company offers resources to employees in crisis. Or, maybe you or someone you know has gone through a similar situation and you can provide helpful insight. If not, simply listening goes a long way. The bottom line, you’re talking to a person now—not a just an employee.

Step 3 – Discuss Policy and Set Expectations

If your company has a policy for dealing with sudden employee leaves of absence, gently bring it up so that both parties understand what’s expected. If you don’t have a policy like this, now is the time to work out an arrangement. How much time does your employee need? What, if any, communication can you expect? Is your employee able to work remotely? Try to settle on the details now to avoid uncertainty and confusion down the road.

Step 3 – Find Qualified Temporary Staffing

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. At Labor Systems Job Center, we can fill in during sudden employee absences with qualified candidates who are ready to hit the ground running. While there’s no replacing one of your top-performing employees, our temps are prepared to work in professional office environments in a variety of roles. They can easily transition to office environments like yours requiring support staff that can work effectively from day one. Who knows, you might even choose to find a permanent spot for them after your employee returns to work.

Don’t Let an Unexpected Employee Absence Slow You Down

Our personnel agency can help you fill a wide variety of positions in many different industries. Fill out a staffing request today, or contact us to learn more about how we can help you.