How To Call In Sick, From The Guy Who Answers The Phone.Posted: January 26, 2011
I have been supervising people since the early ’90’s. Part of being a supervisor entails being the person people call in sick to. Over the years I have dealt with people who were very good at the art of calling in for a sick day. I have also dealt with complete hacks.
Today I am going to review a few important points I’ve developed from my years of picking up the phone and taking those “I’m afraid I can’t make it in” calls. By following these few simple tips, you’ll keep yourself in the boss’s good graces.
When you call in sick is as important as the reason you do it. Calling in sick moments before you’re due at the office doesn’t tell the boss you’re sick, it sends the message that you woke up late.
How do you avoid this? The best at calling in sick do it around the time they’d have to leave their home to be at work on time. Making your call at this point delivers a more positive message – ” I tried. I got up and could be there if I weren’t so ill.”
While we’re talking timing, let’s explore the after hours call to the boss’s cell phone.
Calling the boss the night before can be helpful in situations where your absence requires that someone be located to fill your position at work for the day. Outside of that circumstance, it is generally a bad idea to call the boss at home to tell her that you’re not well. It isn’t that your supervisor doesn’t care about you, she probably just doesn’t care at that moment.
Remember, your boss probably doesn’t like thinking about work when she’s at home any more than you do. Be courteous, call in the morning.
When You Call In Sick, Make An Actual Call
Text messages and emails are great, in their place. This is not their place. Supervisors want to hear your voice in this situation.
When you call in sick, your boss does a quick calculation of the pitifulness quotient of your voice and your tale of woe. A quiet background and sick sounding voice (I don’t have to describe it, you know how to do the sick voice) will result in your sick call being well received.
A text message that says “I’m sick, can’t make it in” might as well say “I flew to Vegas and lost my shirt at the casino; I’m not sure how I’m getting home, and I may be married to the person I found in my hotel room this morning.”
When you are truly ill, don’t rob yourself of the value of a high pitifulness quotient with an ill-conceived text or e-mail. Call the boss.
Is It Ever Permissible To Text In Sick?
Actually, it is, but only in the most dire of circumstances.
Allow me to define dire circumstances for those who might need some extra help. If you are in a place that is not your home and have heard any of these words…
gurney, suture, I.V., stat, bedpan, heart monitor, CAT scan, x-ray, morphine, anesthesiologist
…used in sentences that involve you, you are in dire circumstances and may text in sick.
Here are two examples of text messages I have received in the middle of the night letting me know I would not see someone at the office in the morning. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which person got an unpleasant response.
4:30 am: Appendix. They’re going to cut me. Not working. Will call.
3:15 am: I’ve got a sore throat. Put me out on sick leave please.
Calling In Sick When You’re Not Sick
You know it happens, I know it happens, so does your boss. Both of us would encourage you not to call in sick simply to get an extra day off. There may come a day that you need that sick leave, it will hurt to go without pay if it happens!
That said, if you choose to do it, don’t insult your boss’s intelligence. We all know people get sick on Fridays and Mondays. But if you seem to be getting sick too often on Friday or Monday, know that you’re going to be getting some face time with the supervisor that neither of you want. I’ll make my point here with a true tale from my experience.
I had an employee who was frequently ill on Monday. Eventually I figured out that his sick Mondays correlated with how close that weekend’s NASCAR race was to our town. If it was within a day’s drive, he’d have some ailment that made him unable to make it to the office. Weekends where there wasn’t a race within reach were followed by healthy Mondays.
I tell you this tale to make a point. If you get called in to discuss your sick leave, and you’ve been faking it a little, odds are that the jig is up. Contrition is in order.
My race fan chose the strategy of strict denial. It didn’t go well for him. Any boss worth his or her salt is not going to take that sort of meeting lightly and will have done their homework. The NASCAR schedule is on the internet. Like I said, it didn’t go well for our race fan friend.
Be Smart. Call When You’re Sick, Show Up When You’re Not.
It is the cold and flu season. If you’re feeling puny, you’re not helping anyone by going to work and sharing your misery. Be sure that when you’re under the weather and can’t work that you are smart about it. Keep the goodwill of the people who sign your paychecks – pick up the phone.
- Your Take: Sick Day Shenanigans? (bargaineering.com)