Caregiving is nearly always a team effort. In the best of circumstances, this means everyone involved communicates and works hard to be ready when called. But in the real world we all have met coworkers or team members who just aren’t contributing, and some even neglect to come to practice. Here are some ways to remind teammates that their efforts are vital to the team’s success.
Document and Decide
Before you start making changes or speak with other team members, take time to document times, incidents and actions that show your coworker’s neglect of duty. The worst thing you can do is to arrive with one or two small examples or none at all, and breed negativity. Keep a discrete notebook or take notes on your phone. Include dates, times, and pictures, if possible. Then, note possible excuses they might have. For example: If the senior in your mutual care becomes nauseated after dinner and does not want to take the usual bath, that does not constitute laziness by a coworker. It means they are flexible and put a senior’s wellbeing before routines. If you notice a senior has not received a bath in some time that may be a problem.
Once you have documentation and you have shown that laziness is a strong possible explanation for the coworker’s actions, notify your supervisor. Most businesses have a chain of command—identify yours, bring your documentation, and speak kindly. Identify the highest priorities—those that interfere with a senior’s health and safety are first. (This process can be difficult because it is likely that a coworker’s refusal to complete assigned tasks always directly affects seniors. Do your best to judge what your supervisor will deem most important.)
Once you meet with your supervisor and create a plan of action, you will probably have to continue working with this person. Keep your exchanges polite, respectful and tactful. If you can file your concerns anonymously, do so. Listen to your supervisor and support your coworker’s improvement. Your plan might stop here!
However, in some workplaces, supervisors are not as effective as coworker communication. If chatting with a supervisor does not yield good results, you may need to adjust your communication in order to solve the problem. This can prove difficult since you always want strong and amicable relationships at work. Consider some of the following roundabout methods of addressing the situation.
- I’ve noticed you’ve been a little tired lately. Is everything okay?
- [Name of senior] seems off today—did everything go all right with his medications last night?
- [Senior’s family member] called, asking about her lunchtime routine, since she might take her out to lunch next weekend. Can you walk me through it so I can call her back with the right information?
These questions prompt your coworker to think about their behavior at work. It also reminds them you are a team and that their actions affect others. Consider these possible answers:
- I have been tired. I started night school and it’s taking a lot out of me, thank you for noticing. (Now you know why things might be slacking! Then you can ask smarter questions, even offer to help while your coworker adjusts to a newer, more demanding schedule.)
- Oh, he’s been resisting taking his sleeping medications. I didn’t want to fight him, so I let it go, but this is happening more often. (Now you have a specific issue you can bring to the senior or his doctor to discuss.)
- She likes to eat a sandwich and soup around noon, then she takes her afternoon medications and goes on a walk. She’s supposed to be supervised, but she does fine on her own. (Now, you can politely impress upon your coworker the importance of following protocols. Or, find out why she or he might be resistant to the task and help to remedy it.)
Keep Calm and Change the Plan
Typically, caregivers work hard and do their best. This means that most of the time coworkers grapple with issues that challenge their patience, stamina and intellect. These challenges are not overcome easily or alone. When you believe a coworker is being lazy, have the patience and compassion to reserve judgment. Then, when you establish communication and understand why tasks are not being completed, create a solution that involves both of you. This could mean giving support, checking in on them in a few days or offering a pep talk. No matter what the changes are, changes are in order. The more team- and action-oriented the changes are, the better. For example, if your coworker has been doing a poor job completing the daily journal on several seniors, offer to read it for them for a few weeks before they turn it in. This puts an extra task on you, but you might find that they simply need more training or a keener eye. Then, they’ll no longer need your help and can write good journals.
Remember, remind others that they are part of a vital team to keep seniors healthy, happy and safe. The more team-oriented and supportive the workplace is, the better it is for everyone – and it starts with you.
Rosenblatt, Carolyn. 5 Success Tips With Difficult Aging Parents. Forbes, January 27, 2011. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2011/01/27/5-success-tips-with-difficult-aging-parents/#287146a7532e. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
Smith, Jacquelyn. 12 Tips For Dealing With A Lazy Co-Worker. Forbes, August 1, 2013. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/08/01/12-tips-for-dealing-with-a-lazy-co-worker/#4b5f80f7b832. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
WikiHow. How to Stop Covering for a Lazy Coworker. WikiHow.com. Available at http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Covering-for-a-Lazy-Coworker. Retrieved March 6, 2017.