APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she helps out someone worried about going back to work and an employee who can't stand her lazy colleague getting away with doing nothing.
Q) I work in an industrial setting and I’ve been signed off with back pain for three months. Thankfully, it’s now starting to get better and my doctor thinks I’ll be ready to return to work soon, but I’m nervous as I’ve been away for so long.
For the first few weeks, my colleagues all messaged me and asked how I was, but that petered out. Now I’m worried about going back as I’m sure they think I’ve been shirking my work and are annoyed they’ve had to pick up the slack while I’ve been off sick. Please help!
Terri, via email
A) It’s great news that you are feeling better. I know it can be daunting thinking of returning to work after time off – you feel anxious and worried about being out of the loop and how you will reconnect with everyone, especially in a Covid-restricted workspace. My advice is to reach out to your colleagues right away.
Let them know when you are returning and tell them that you’re looking forward to working with them again. Try to be upbeat and positive and ask if there is anything new you need to know and anything you can help them with. I am sure they will be really pleased to have you back, so while the thought of it may be a bit scary, you’ll soon get back into the swing of things.
However, it’s important not to push yourself too hard physically, as you don’t want to end up in the same position you found yourself in a few months ago – so go easy on yourself and ask your HR department for help to make your working environment as comfortable as possible.
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Q) I’ve been working from home in my admin job for the past year and recently I’ve noticed that one colleague is never at her computer if I video-call her, and always seems to log in to the system late and clock off early.
My boss doesn’t appear to have noticed – we have team targets, not individual ones, so as long as the work gets done, she doesn’t care who does it. I’m annoyed that this person seems to be hardly working, when I’m busting a gut. What should I do?
Laura, via email
A) It’s frustrating when you are giving your all and a colleague isn’t, especially if it means you have to do extra work. But before you decide what to do, be clear about how much time they are wasting. If it’s a few minutes here and there, it might be annoying, but maybe they have different home circumstances to you and are struggling to juggle it all?
However, if their lack of effort is having a huge impact on you, talk to them directly. Don’t be confrontational – just explain calmly and professionally the effect the unbalanced workload is having on you. This might make them realise the severity of the situation, so they make changes immediately.
But if not, you might need to be the one to change: instead of picking up extra work, leave it for them and see what happens. You might also want to keep a record of where you think they’re not pulling their weight. If you need to escalate the issue, having specific examples for your boss will help. Good managers take their workers’ productivity seriously, so they should then take the lead in resolving the issue.
- Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice
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