I'll be brief. Have a staff member that is dealing with a chronic back issue. It's been an issue for around 6 weeks now. Rest of the staff has been filling in admirably. Staff member is out of paid leave time and is attempting to work but just cannot. She'll start out on Monday and by end of day, into Tuesday just cannot continue and off rest of the week. Rest of the team is worn out from this abrubt change in the schedule and needing to manage the rest of the week. I'm a dentist and the person with back problem is a hygienist. She has her own schedule filled with patients. The rest of the staff can accomidate if they know, for example, the hygienist will be gone for, say, next week. But it's difficult to do so last moment. So, any ideas to help me balance compassion for the ill employee with the rest of the staffs wearing out on having to fix her schedule on short notice. This has drawn my office closer together, believe it or not, but like anything else, no one can go pedal to the floor continuously without it taking a toll.

thaGUma's picture

I am not surprised that the crisis is bring your co-workers closer together. Every cloud has a silver lining.

With regard to the hygenist. She cannot take the workload. So can the workload be reduced to a level she can cope with? Increasing as she returns to full health. No-one benefits from trying to absorb her workload. Clients will be irritiated, staff will be demotivated, she will be depressed. She must dread coming in on a Monday.

Face up to the issue. If you need more cover then get temporary cover. Her wages may need adjusting if sick pay is depleted.

Review short medium and long term situation and agree a strategy with her. She is being inconsiderate if her inability to work is impacting so obviously.

If this continues, your business will be seriously affected.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

It's not uncaring or mean to ask her to stop promising to come in and then not doing so. It's also not unreasonable to stop paying her when her benefits are up.

I would consider both of these immediately, and also look for a temporary hygienist. I used to be a Procter professional sales rep, and knew thousands of dentists and hygienists, and know you can't run a practice without one.

Talk to her. You can't sacrifice your team for her. Give her feedback about her impacts, and ask her to stop.

This IS compassionate. She is not getting better. Perhaps it sounds harsh that she won't get paid, but then on that argument you should be charging next to nothing so everyone could have your service. Economic realities are...real. And reasonable to abide by.


tomas's picture

Depending on which country you are in, you may also have Workplace health and safety issues. You don't mention the cause of the back pain. If it is an injury sustained at home (fell off a ladder or that sort of thing) then that is one thing, but if is being caused by working conditions you may want to think about whether anything can be done to prevent bad posture and stress on employee's backs.

If it is caused by work then, depending on your location, you may have legal obligations to re-arrange the duties of the staff member to accomodate the injury.

Please feel free to ignore if this does not apply to you, but I thought it might be useful to discuss the issues that may arise for managers in different jurisdictions.