A really great employee, your best, just returned from vacation a little worse for wear. Water skiing for the first time in 10 years left them unable to lift all of the heavy loads that are a usual part of the day. You know that they’ll be back up to speed in about a week and you empathize with the draw of the water, so you tell them to not to worry, “Dan will help you out for a couple of days.”
Yes, it’s important to know our employee’s strengths and weaknesses both intellectual and physical, and our best employees should be treated with care and commitment. But changing job requirements is not the way to handle this situation.
You could end up:
- Making the employee who has to cover angry at you and his injured co-worker.
- Creating the risk of a work-related injury that compounds any personal injury.
- Gaining a reputation for playing favorites.
- Not getting the work done.
A better approach is to level with the employee and ask them what their capacity for work is. Do they need to see a doctor and get clearance for the physical work that is required by the job? Do you have some kind of light duty policy for personal injuries that would be applicable and applied fairly? Are they better off taking a few sick days until they can come back to work at full strength?
Get the answers to these questions and avoid turning one of your most valued team members into a problem.