From a long time federal contractor employee-a very important view!!
Now that you have been awarded your government contract, you have the perfect employees, right?
You have employees who will show up for work every day, do their work perfectly, always be on time and never take an unscheduled day off.
Realistically, this isn’t how it works. Because of the vast diversity in the work force now, single parents, both parents working, employees that take care of elderly parents etc, there will always times when an employee has to call in because they have a sick child at home or a sick parent, no one to watch them but the employee.
My advice to you, the company owner and your program manager is to be flexible. This is not to say you should be a pushover, but realize that you will have employees that have no choice but to stay home with their child or parent. By not being flexible with them you are adding stress to the levels they already have.
You may have an employee that is a superstar at work, but needs to call in at least 2 or 3 times a month. What to do with them…you need to have them at the job; you have a contract to uphold. You like the employee and their performance but you can’t let them have so much time off from work. You are afraid it will affect your performance level with your contract. What to do? At the beginning of your contract, put a plan in place to cover these situations.
Have an on call employee that can cover at the last minute. Make sure you have a backup plan in place for any last minute disruptions to the work schedule.
Have a flexible work schedule for the employees. If allowed on your contract, let the employee make up their time. They don’t like being out of the office anymore than you like them being out. Beside, many of them will have to be off work without pay if they do not have leave on the books. This is another stress factor for the employee. Enough stress factors on an employee can create a high impact on their work performance. They are so busy worrying about how they are going to juggle everything; they can’t concentrate on their work. Therefore, they do not perform well. Many employers will just let an employee go if they are out too often. Is that the correct answer? Remember, to replace them cost you money. You have to spend time scheduling interviews, going through the interview process, getting a new employee trained, and not having the high performance the employee you are replacing had when they were at work.
This is not to say there are not employees that will abuse the situation. You will always have one or two that will do that…it is the downfall of doing business. Whether it is on a government contract or in the private sector you have to beware of the problem.
Finding the right program manager will be a tremendous help to you in this situation. They can work with the employee; try to help them find solutions to the situation. They do not need to fix the problem, but a good program manager will care about the employees under them and help when possible. A good program manager will listen to the employee when they need help, it also helps to weed out the employees that are abusers of the situation…a good program manager will know which ones are the abusers by listening to them closely.
Lastly, appreciate your employees and your program manager. They are valuable assets to your company. They are your “money in the bank”. They can make your contract worth its weight, or drag you down to a bad performance evaluation, thereby creating difficulty in being rewarded the contract again when it comes up for renewal.
Loretta Sullivan, Consultant