Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Man (Utd) Flu

I support Manchester United, and watched the game vs Chelsea this week. United had striker problems, and it was reported we were short because Rooney and Martial were injured, Ibrahimovic was suspended and Rashford was ill. 

But then Rashford made some kind of recovery during the day, made it from Manchester to London, and played (and played OK too). So was he ill in the first place or was it mind games from Jose Mourinho? Let's assume he WAS ill and let's explore the implications of this. 

So he's ill and notifies his employer that he can't come to work that day. One of two things has then happened. Either a) during the day he has recovered sufficiently to come into work later on or b) his employer has got back in touch, explained how desperate they are, and asked him to come in despite being ill. 

If the former happened, then this shows great flexibility on the part of both employer and employee. 

Or does it?

You'd have to question whether Rashford was, initially, really as ill as he reported if later on he could feel better enough to work. Did he overreact initially? Was this a case of the Man Flu? Or Man Utd Flu?

But also, just as illness can come on one suddenly, it can also lift suddenly, and both sides can be applauded for having the flexibility to review the original "off sick today" decision. This is something I think all employers should do. 

My own approach, based on a total of zero sick days across my entire working life, is that there shouldn't be an approach of all or nothing when a person is ill. If someone is not going to be able to do 100% of their duties, then it's preferable, in my view, if they do even 10% as that's better than 0%. 

Of course there are complications in that some illnesses are best kept out of the workplace for fear of spreading to healthy workers, but assuming the individual can work remotely or across a different timespan then this kind of flexibility should be encouraged. So if an individual like Rashford has been ill over the weekend and needs a few extra hours to sleep it off before coming into work, but is willing to work later on and do less than 100% of his normal duties, then I say that's a good thing and better than him taking the whole day off sick and doing 0%. 

Recently someone I know was quite ill and could potentially have worked from home but would have had to go into the office to collect something first, and didn't want to do that because of how it would have looked. That says there's something about a culture of presenteeism that still needs to be tackled. The same person also felt that they COULD work in between bouts of being ill and confined to the bathroom, but felt that this sporadic approach to working was not helpful to the organisation and chose to take the entire day off sick as a result. Again, this says something about individual and organisational approaches to work that only working 7-8 hours/day in one go is considered "work". 

Here's the thing. It's not the only way. 

And what if the latter scenario about Rashford is true, in that he was pressured by his employer to come in because they were desperate?

If the employer did ask Rashford to reconsider his "off sick" stance, which he obviously did, then this may be considered bullying and potentially something that could contribute to a deterioration in Rashford's health in that he was asked to come in and perform at a very high level despite feeling ill which could have made him much worse. 

But, possibly, it also says something about employee engagement and openness in the workplace in that the employer and employee could have adult-adult conversations about choices and flexibility, and the employee felt passionate enough and connected enough to his organisations goals that he could be persuaded to come in despite feeling ill. 

Perhaps we will never know the full story. 

I do think that organisations should be able to have grown up conversations with their staff without that being considered undue pressure or bullying, but also that both sides should build in enough flexibility and understanding in their relationship that occasional illnesses, and different ideas on what constitutes work under "normal" and "unusual" circumstances. 

Ultimately, Rashford reconsidered his decision, played, but United lost, so perhaps all this is for naught if the organisation doesn't achieve its specific goals from asking the employee to reconsider…

Something to think about. 

Oh and another thing. If you are ill, talk about it in grown up terms. You are not "an ickle bit poorly".  Small children get "an ickle bit poorly". Adults do not. Adults get ill. Sorry to rant but one manager I used to work with would regularly use this phrase to describe themselves and their team when unwell. 

Till next time…


Ps in other news, my PT course is going well. I passed the L2 Gym Instructing course and am halfway through the L3 Personal Trainer element now. It is really brilliant and I'm learning loads about nutrition, anatomy and physiology and how to structure a training programme. I've got great people who've volunteered to help me throughout and I'm able to apply my learning on both their and my own training. Watch this space for further developments.

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