Your Most Valuable Employee – The H1N1 Formula…

Tim Sackett Culture, Tim Sackett

I witnessed an interesting thing happen in the last two weeks, organizations all over the country are quickly falling victim to H1N1.  In mass, you have employees missing work, schools are closing, parents need to be at home to take care of kids, and then they come back sick.  What I find most interesting is the small back office conversations that happen, usually with an HR Pro in attendance with some rag-tag group of executives.  The conversation goes a little like this:

Executive: “Hey, did you see the sales department is down about 50% of the staff?”Used tissues

HR Pro: “Yeah, they got hit really hard.”

Executive: “Look, I need the sales people to be here.”

HR Pro: “Yeah, I understand, but they need to be out for so long, otherwise they could get the rest of us sick.”

Executive: “Let me clarify, if we don’t sell, I don’t need you – or many others for that matter.”

HR Pro: “Got it – we’ll let them know it’s alright to work sick. What should I tell the rest of the staff when they ask about why these individuals are allowed to come in sick?”

Executive: “Tell the high risk individuals to just stay home, we’ll call them back when the coast is clear. The others won’t care because they’ll get sick and will stay home anyway.”

HR Pro:  “So, we are going to pay healthy employees to stay at home, so the sick ones can work?”

Executive: “Yes.”

I love these scenarios because it really challenges our perception of our employer.  People could read the above and think – oh, I would never work for a company like that! Get real – this might not be happening, but I can guarantee you that a conversation as big has happened or will happen between senior leadership and your HR Executive.  Don’t think this is happening?  You need to go back to Big Boy/Girl HR School.  To me, this is the ultimate measuring stick of your value. If you find yourself at home – healthy – waiting for sick people to get better at work – well…here’s your sign.