Paul Butler: Perfect attendance

I was inspired by a story recently in our “Mighty Signal” newspaper about a young student who graduated with perfect attendance. This person never missed a single day of school between the ages of 5 through 18.

This got me thinking about our working world. Have you noticed how some people never seem to take a day off and others seem to be out more than in? I’ve often thought it would be a good incentive for employers to reward people for perfect attendance in a year.

We all have worked with people though who seem so addicted to their work; they never took their vacation — that’s what I call “imperfect attendance.” Some people take their vacation but work while on that vacation. How sad is that? Some people take their vacation but work far in excess of eight hours a day and usually eat lunch at their desk — that’s just not sustainable in the long run.

A motto I’ve always had is: “Love my wife and children — like my work,” and that’s served me well. No one on their deathbed ever sighed their last breath, bemoaning they wished they’d spent more time at work.

So I wonder if we could agree “perfect attendance” in the workplace is when we only take a sick day when we’re actually … sick, and that we always take our time off to rest and refresh. Perfect attendance could also be translated as “fully engaged attendance” — giving our very best effort while doing the work we are paid to do.

Sadly, I’m sure we’ve all noticed that some employees want to give as little as possible to still get as much as possible. Some employees tell me they take all their sick days each year, regardless of whether they’re actually sick because their mindset is, “I earned them.”

We have consulted with many organizations having trouble engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, yet surprisingly, few people leave the organization. We call this the “quit but stay” syndrome. For all intents and purposes, the person has quit, but they stay because the benefits are so good. They choose to drudge on for decades doing work they hate. The problem is, their colleagues and customers aren’t served well by their lack of engagement. That’s what I call “imperfect attendance,” regardless of how many hours the disgruntled employee clocks up.

On the basis we only have one life on this Earth and we spend so many of our waking hours at work, why not go for greatness? Why not be the very best version of yourself?

I have two watches in my office, which belonged to my paternal and maternal grandfathers. I stopped one at 8 a.m. and the other at 5 p.m. On the back of both watches is an inscription from their respective employer thanking them for 40 years of faithful service. I keep these watches for three reasons. Firstly, because they were two men I loved very much indeed — I remember them as grandfathers and not employees. Secondly, I intentionally set them at a nine-hour working day, to inspire me to “go the extra hour” as an employee and now a business owner. And thirdly, to remind me that when we spend so much time at work, we mustn’t lose sight of the minutes and hours we should always invest with our loved ones.

Let’s all commit to “perfect attendance.” Go the extra mile but don’t burn yourself out. Be grateful for your work and do it to the best of your ability. Don’t put in half-hearted work and just hang around for the benefits — that’s to no-one’s benefit in the long run. Yes, let’s all commit to “perfect attendance.”

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaf-ca.com). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]

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