One of Chinesa’s duties at Abel Personnel is to handle phone calls and voicemail messages from those notifying Abel that they will not be in attendance at their assigned company that day. Some of those calling off are short-term temps, while others have long-term assignments, some lasting several years. As Abel Personnel employees, they are required to call the Attendance line before 8:00 AM. Abel’s commitment to its clients is to notify them about any absences or tardiness by 8:00 AM so these clients can plan work distribution for the day.
Chinesa considers herself a “morning person,” so arriving at the office before 8:00 AM, an hour before the doors are unlocked, is no problem. The office is quiet then, great for plowing through this work. She isn’t always the first one in, and the others who are in early, most recruiters, keep to themselves, answering emails and voicemails left after whatever time their day ended yesterday.
With the advent of the pandemic shutdown and later a return to hybrid work, many days Chinesa responds to these phone calls and voice messages at home. This still allows her to complete her client notifications in a timely way.Occasionally she picks up a 6:30 AM call on her cell phone just before she starts her morning workout, greeting a surprised caller who is hoping not to talk with an actual person and to just leave a message. Chinesa can easily guess which of the excuses those callers are giving might not be entirely truthful.
A few years of this responsibility have led Chinesa to identify four types of callers on those early mornings:
- Apologetically Sick: These callers often struggle not to sound so sick, and are either sorry to be disappointing their assigned company or losing pay for that day.
- Questionably Sick: Greater effort is made here to sound sick. This is especially true on Monday mornings when Chinesa becomes suspicious that someone either wants to prolong the weekend or is feeling low from a weekend of excess. Often a sick call is offered as an excuse rather than admitting the actual reason for the absence.
- Family Needs: The person can work, but needs to care for someone else or do something that can only be done during regular business hours. Often, a backup child care plan falls through, or other matters that are unavoidable and unpredictable.
- Transportation Issues: These are employees who unexpectedly do not have the means to arrive at work. Often this is a car breakdown, their vehicle or one belonging to whoever is giving them a ride. Occasionally the usual public transport does not arrive or is missed. Many of these callers still need a few more months of wage-earning to buy a new or more reliable car. Missing days of work can have adverse consequences for job security and extend the date until they can have consistent transport.
This last set of callers has become an opportunity for Abel to offer an innovative approach benefiting both their clients and the assigned staff. Chinesa will verify the caller’s location and a contact phone number. An Uber or Lyft is sent to pick them up and shuttle them to work. She can make the same arrangement to take them from work to home, or some to daycare facilities to retrieve children and then home. For those with little cash to spend or no credit card, Abel pays for this service and then deducts the cost from their next paycheck.
This service in most cases is received as a godsend. These employees want to work, want to be dependable, and need income. The small cost of the ride is better than earning no money that day. It also keeps them in good standing on their assignment. For Abel Personnel, this is also an opportunity to assure their employees’ needs are met, they can arrive at work, be paid, and have a solid attendance record.
Abel wants to see our employees succeed, and helping them with transportation is part of that effort. Employees with strong attendance are valued by companies, enabling them to have employment longevity, annual wage increases, and opportunities for recognition and promotion.
Chinesa noted that since 2020, a number of our clients have offered remote or hybrid work opportunities. This change has improved attendance and diminished tardiness. Many employees with minor ailments can work from home, even if they don’t feel well enough to be in an office, and of course, getting to work on time is no problem. Still, Mondays, which are often the busiest days at many companies, have the highest number of call-offs. That problem, Abel hasn’t solved.