Employees Bringing Family To Work

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bringing family to work:

I help with a community events program and I have found out that many of our employees are bringing family members to the community event for which they are supposed to be working. I have communicated these concerns to the supervisor of this program who said he would deal with it. This weekend, once again another staff member brought their wife and children to a car show community event and was seen hanging out with his family instead of working the event. These individuals still claim and get paid for these hours they are hanging out with their families. The supervisor is ineffective and is doing little to change this. I’m an analyst on this program and it frustrates me that employees are getting away with this and that the supervisor does nothing to change this. Any suggestions on what I can do?

Signed, Analyst

Dear Analyst:

What is your job description? Is it to police employees to determine if they are fulfilling their assigned duties? If so, you have done your duty to report the infraction to your supervisor. If not, you still have done what you think is right. The question now is: Is it your job to go again to the supervisor and complain that he has been “ineffective” or to go over his head to say that he is “doing little to change this”? Get my point? The issue is: have you done what you think is right to do? The answer to that is “Yes”. Should you do more? The answer to that is probably, “You have done what you think is right and that is enough.” Why? Because likely your job is not to police community employees. From here, of course, I can’t know but I expect that your job description does not include policing.

It is evident that you have a sense of what is fair and that is to be commended–All employees should put in an honest day’s work and earn what they are paid. But might it be that you need to look at the big picture of to what extent do the events program benefit the community? And might it be your job to make your recommendations on that theme?A related matter to that theme is: how family members of employees should fit in to those events? Possibly, it would enhance the events if employees gave their families special invitations to attend them. And might involving one’s family in one’s work could benefit the family and the community?

Another related matter is: to what extent are employees committed to making these events a success? One of the practical tests of commitment is who pitches in to pick up trash that lands on the floor. Does the city manager, mayor, city council, superintendent of schools, police chief, and do you stoop to pick of litter during community events? If not, might the big issue be to find a way to generate psychological ownership in all concerned? For example, if you were charged with creating smoke-free public events in the community, your success would hinge on how widely you educated everyone who would attend of the harm of second-hand smoke.I can stop my sermon here.

My answer to your question is a challenge to you to be a can-do person on a bigger matter than reporting those whom you resent for entertaining their family while they should be working an event. If this suggestion does not appeal to you, test this out with someone you respect, but I would advise you not to make “employees bringing their families” to community events a topic of gossip. To do so will not help and could hurt your influence as an analyst. If this makes sense, fine. If not, brainstorm a more creative answer. Egos are at stake in every workplace, so my closing suggestion is that working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. I hope whatever you decide to do will contribute to big WEGOS for your community.

William Gorden