Found Your “Sick” Employee on the Slopes? Here Are Five Ways to Handle it

Every employer knows that employees call in sick, even when they’re well. A staff member who is deceptive from time to time is one of the burdens of owning a business, but what happens when you actually catch your lying employee red-handed? What happens when you catch them on the slopes, blissfully red-nosed and windburned?

There are a few different ways to handle this awkward situation. Consider the following five:

Pretend you don’t see them.

Perhaps the easiest way to deal with a deceptive worker is to simply pretend you don’t see them. With everyone decked out in hats, sunglasses, and scarves, it’s easy to play naïve. There are so many ski masks, after all, that you can’t tell your staff member from a bank robber.  It doesn’t solve anything, but it does allow you to enjoy your day without conflict.

Consider their history before you react.

You probably don’t enjoy being lied to (most people don’t), but before you react, consider your employee’s history. Do they have a track record of strong attendance, or do they conveniently call in “sick” on good powder days? A worker who sells the sniffles for the slopes once in a rare while should be handled differently than one who calls in each week and accidentally lets it slip that they have a case of the “moguls.”

Another thing to keep in mind is whether the employee asked someone else to take their shift. If they did, there’s likely no harm done. If they didn’t, you may need to remind them that a lack of workers puts you in a bind.

Recognize that your hands may be tied.

If you offer your employees paid time off, they’re allowed to do whatever they want with that time; many companies don’t specify between “sick time” and “personal time.” Why did they lie to you in the first place? Because it sounds better to tell your boss, “I can’t work because I have a strep” than it does, “I can’t work because I’m strapped to my snowboard.”

Confront them.

You may have no choice but to confront your employee – if you run into them in the lodge or the bathroom, it’s hard to say nothing, but what you say is up to you. You can ignore their deception entirely and instead focus on talking about the weather outside or the hot chocolate you purchased. You also have the option of being direct and telling them you’d appreciate honesty on their part in the future.  Remember, you don’t want to give yourself a reputation as a soft boss who lets employees get away with anything.  Still, it’s best not to be too unforgiving, because let’s face it; you ditched work to ski just the same as they did.

Leave them wondering.

A final way to handle running into an employee on the slopes is to acknowledge them, but refrain from any sort of lecture. Instead, tell them they owe you one, wink, and laugh. Then walk away. Slowly.

Even the best workers will choose enjoyment over employment from time to time. Having a comprehensive attendance policy helps encourage honesty and openness, and it keeps your workplace vibe in a generally positive place. Sign up for our mailing list to learn more about managing people striving to balance work with life.