Coworker Dumps On Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about unfair calling in sick:

Why do some employees get away with calling in to work for something every single week? They don’t seem to be held responsible by our supervisor for calling in. The one employee just makes everyone feel sorry for her and shares all her drama so she doesn’t get in trouble. This doesn’t seem fair and it’s affecting my job because I have to pick up her work. What can I do?

Signed, It Is NOT Fair

DearĀ It Is NOT Fair:

Slackers and free riders get by because a superior understands reasons for frequent absences, doesn’t want to confront irresponsibility, and/or hasn’t had to deal with coworkers’ complaints about having to take up the slack. It’s a problem as old as we’ve had bosses and the bossed. What might be a way to stop this? Here are several options for you and others who feel they are dumped on because of the absent coworker:

1. Refrain from gossip about Ms. Feel Sorry for Me, but quietly speak with her about how frustrated you are when she calls in and tells a story asking for sympathy. Say, up front, that you are unhappy with her past behavior and that if she calls in again with sorry excuses, you will be forced to report her.

2. Log the times this individual was absent and describe the additional tasks you had to do. Then in writing request that your boss provide help for those times when this coworker again calls in.

3. Suggest to your boss that she/he schedules weekly meetings to review the past week and plan assignments ahead. Here then is a time to spell out expectations and responsibilities. It can also be a time to think like a team rather than as individuals working solo. Coaches of sports teams conduct skull sessions to applaud what went well and what needs correcting for the next game. Work groups can learn from that. Things won’t change by ignoring what is a pattern of absences. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, so to make this a productive and coworker-friendly workplace, it will take a firm and persistent effort to have Ms. Sorry improve. You have a voice and so do your coworkers who are frustrated with her.

William Gorden