A reader writes:
I work in a large call center, but I’m on a very small team of only three people. I’m an English CSR (customer service representative) and there are two French CSRs. The newer French CSR is chronically absent, at least a day every week. She is a hairdresser on the side and fakes sickness and family problems in order to leave early or miss a day in order to work as a hairdresser. I know this because I’ve overheard the personal calls she takes at her desk, and because I found her online ad, requested an appointment, and lo-and-behold she left early the next day. When she is gone it effectively doubles the work of the other French CSR, as well as stresses out customers as she is unable to complete call backs and she is absent on days she asks them to contact her.
When she is at work, she spends more time away from her desk than doing any of her work. Last week, I kept track of all the time she spent away from her desk, and excluding her break time it was an hour and 39 minutes. When she is finally doing her work, she doesn’t bother to fully complete each customer’s file and again creates more work for the other agent and myself.
The Operations Manager and Team Supervisor are aware of these issues but nothing is being done. This isn’t a new issue or an occasional disturbance. This coworker is chronically absent and consistently does as little as possible…and gets away with it. I’m not sure which avenue to take, as I really can’t continue working like this. The other French CSR and myself have been here for 4 years now and feel like we are being treated unfairly and our needs, especially as a small team, are being ignored.
Yes, this is frustrating. But you’ve gotten way out of control with your focus on it.
Stop tracking her time. Stop thinking about her entirely, in fact. The sole question that’s relevant to you here is: How does this impact your work?
It sounds like it doesn’t affect your work at all, since you have an entirely different slate of customers than she does. It’s just annoying you, and you can decide whether to let it or not. I recommend not letting it, since that is a recipe for being unhappy at work … and it’s the kind of thing where, if you let it annoy you enough and for long enough, you will soon find yourself boiling over with rage (see your statement, “I really can’t continue working like this”). Over something that doesn’t actually affect you.
Now, is it unfair? Maybe. But you don’t actually know whether anything is being done about it or not. It’s entirely possible that her manager is doing something about it, and that’s something you wouldn’t be aware of if so — managers don’t generally broadcast their disciplinary actions to others.
Or maybe her manager isn’t doing anything about it. That’s possible too. But again, you don’t really know and it doesn’t affect you.
The other French CSR, though, is in a different situation. She is affected by this, and she should speak with her boss about it, keeping the focus on the impact it has on her ability to do her work. That’s her call though; again, it’s not really your business. It’s hers to handle if she decides to.
Your only real option here is to give your boss a one-time, discreet heads-up about what’s going on, if your boss has demonstrated that she’s someone who would appreciate that kind of information. But it truly needs to be one-time and then you need to let it drop. (And don’t mention your detective work in finding her hairdressing ad online and requesting an an appointment. This risks making you look way too involved in something you shouldn’t be so involved in.)
Now, ultimately, you might decide that you want to leave this job because you don’t want to work somewhere so poorly managed that people can get away with this kind of thing (if indeed it becomes clear that they’re not addressing the problem behind the scenes). And that is absolutely 100% a legitimate decision to make — especially since management that won’t address something like this is pretty much guaranteed to be screwing up other things too. (Look around. Do you see other places where they won’t make tough decisions and have hard conversations?)
But you want to make that decision from a place of calm and objectivity, after you’ve tried focusing on the fact that her absences don’t affect you — not from a place where you’re so worked up that you’re tracking her time and monitoring her calls.