ABC kids toy blocks

Just the basics.

Please just show up to work. Please. It’s really just that simple.

I could end this blog right here but since you’ve made it this far, I feel I ought to elaborate. 

If you’ve read my book, you’ll have noticed that I have a bone to pick with staffing – not the tireless clerks who are charged with the (impossible?!) responsibility of finding coverage but rather the larger issue of elevated rates of absenteeism (for whatever reason) that result in a high frequency of vacant shifts, leaving working crews short despite no reprieve or adjustment in responsibilities or expectations (that are frequently time-sensitive).

For decades, I’ve witnessed how pervasive staffing challenges are in a multitude of clinical environments. For example, I’m talking about scenarios where you’re getting double-digit sick calls, “sick” calls and no-shows. I’ve always been astounded at the clear lack of swift accountability demonstrated towards those repeat offenders; no-call, no-show and no-accountability seem to be tolerated – to the detriment of overall employee morale. What you permit, you promote. The lack of repercussions only emboldens the aggressors. 

Woman walking out of her Job building

I’m old.

Call me old-fashioned but I don’t think it ever used to be this way. When I was a young whipper-snapper, in the 90s and the turn of the century (!), working multiple jobs to get through university, we hooted with the owls… and soared with the eagles; in the Zeitgeist, a measure of toughness – which, in retrospect, acted as a healthy measure of resiliency – was how able someone was to go full throttle with your working responsibilities without sacrificing your social agenda AND vice-versa. The two were never mutually exclusive – it was about both all the time; we partied late and still made it to work (or practice) at 6 am or 7 am, on time, every time, regardless of how we felt. The rougher you were, the funnier it’d be later on… and learning that you could cope, survive and thrive under such circumstances built confidence, self-esteem, resilience… and life-long friendships. In fact, the tougher the times, the stronger the bonds formed between people. Learning to become reliable and to rely on your peers, no matter the circumstances, is one of the most prescient and valuable lessons I’ve been able to transfer to my working life. 

Just how chaotic the clinical environment becomes when you’re down 8 staff (no, actually 10 because the other 2 simply didn’t show up) is difficult to articulate and that stress is transferred not only to the care teams but, ultimately (and sadly) to the time available for care to be provided on a 1-to-1 basis. These are the times when you need to rely on your peers the most. Help ‘em out and be your best self for them. It won’t go unnoticed.

Workplace Assistance  with a computer

This is to say nothing of casual, part-time or even 3rd-party agency staff who do show up but have no idea where they are working (i.e., on what unit?). This miasma of ‘who is?’, ‘who isn’t?’, where and when complicates matters further. And you’d think it’d be simple – just show up, on time, where you’re supposed to. Easy.

… but in practice, it seldom is.

It’s about balance and taking responsibility for yourself.

I believe that adults are responsible for themselves. Know and live up to your accountabilities – particularly those that have knock-on effects on others. Be self-directed, and proactive and take the necessary steps to clarify your schedule and conduct your life in a manner that is conducive to living up – and showing up – to all of your responsibilities, both personal and professional.

I recognize that this is the holiday season and most people have additional commitments at this time of year. Great, go out and have fun… but not at the expense of calling in ‘sick’, ‘tired’ or ‘lazy’ to work. Please show up – even on the days you might not want to. We need you and you need us. Mutual trust in this department will go a long way.

Showing up at the right time, at the right place should be pretty simple. After all, these are just the basics.


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