I’ve heard every excuse under the sun

Host: Farrcombe Contracting
Written by Raine Pugh

As a small business owner, we employ between 8 to 12 people at one time depending on our work requirements and commitments. Personally, I find employment is a very time consuming task. Between creating an advertisement, answering questions via facebook, email and phone, interviewing applicants, performing reference checks and then following up those who after this process are still interested and worth pursuing.

Because we live and work in a remote environment with limited access to telephone and internet, should someone who has been employed for the season ‘change their mind’, it could take up to a month before we have access to resources to source a replacement. It frustrates me when people are not honest with their reasons for leaving, however the excuses for leaving are most creative and often amusing. I have decided to share with you some of our best.

The most common excuse in our experience is the sympathy vote. Several times we have had employees tell us that their grandfather or grandmother has passed and they must attend the funeral. We completely understand these situations do happen and are often supportive and happy to give the employee a couple of weeks break to attend funeral and family matters. We are often told though that they are not sure when they will be back and must take ALL their belongings with them. Upon speaking with other employers in the industry –  months or years later, have found that the same person has used the same excuse again and again … not too sure how many grandparents some people have but often find the truth to this tale sceptical.

The boys on the tail of another mob.

Injury is often an excuse used prior to and during employment. I have had applicants who have not been able to start the season with us due to injury requiring operation and rehab for several months, only to find that person has taken on a similar job elsewhere immediately after terminating with us. I don’t mind if you have changed your mind and accepted a job elsewhere … just say it as it is!!

On the other hand there are those who have fallen off a horse and apart from their bruised ego, deemed themselves unfit to continue work, only to leave and pick up the same job elsewhere two days later.

Probably the best excuse I have ever heard is of a young bloke we employed a couple of years ago. He was reasonably handy for his age and thought he was enjoying the job with us. One afternoon as we came into phone service after being out at camp for a month, the young fella informs us that he has just received news that his mum has a brain tumor and that he needs to get home for her operation asap. As this seemed like a very legitimate reason to head home we immediately began assisting him with travel. We organised plane tickets, somewhere for him to leave his car instead of at the airport and somewhere to store all his gear while he was gone. We told him we didn’t expect an answer on when he would be back, and to just take as much time as he needed.

The plan was for him to leave the station that afternoon, drive himself to Darwin, leave his car and gear with our friends in Darwin and then catch a flight to where his mum was having her operation.

We later found out that afternoon when he left, instead of turning left at the bitumen to drive to Darwin, he actually turned right down the Stuart Highway and kept going straight back to QLD. Not wanting to jump to conclusions we thought perhaps he had simply changed his travel plans. On the day of his mum’s operation I sent this young chap a message to ask how his mum was doing and at what hospital she was at. He told me she was doing ok and gave me the name of the hospital. I decided to send some flowers to his mum and made a phone call to the hospital florist, only to discover there was no patient there by that name. By now some things were starting to not add up. We realised shortly after that the whole story was made up as an excuse to leave. A couple of weeks later the blokes mum emailed us to chase up his pay. We told her the story of how she was supposed to have a brain tumor and she was very disgusted with her sons actions. She made him call and apologise. She also told us that she was suffering from a ear infection but in no means had a brain tumor. Still to this day think that this was the biggest story we have heard.

Dogs doing their thing – often a lot easier to understand then staff.

40% of people who apply for work with us at the start of the year would pull out before they have even started the job with us. I would rather this then waiting for them to arrive but firstly like to a) be notified, instead of just ignoring all contact and b) be told the truth, injury or death which is not the truth is detrimental to your future, just tell us you have found another job elsewhere – honesty is best. It is so very common among contractors and stations  for us to be expecting a new employee to arrive at a certain set date and there is a complete no show.

For us and I am sure is quite the same with other employers, a reference check is our most important resource when recruiting staff.  Made up stories are often shared among the employers and a reputation for certain individuals is developed. The agriculture industry is a tight community and we look out for each other, honesty is the best way to help your reputation even if you are not enjoying your current job … tell it like it is and be honest.