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Pull the award

Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve witnessed changes to our daily lives. Political meetings, school classes, and just regular interactions with friends moved to online video chat formats like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Gathering sizes for family and friends were limited. Face masks were made mandatory in businesses.

With all this change, there is still one thing I hope this pandemic permanently impacts. It is time to put an end to perfect attendance awards in schools and workplaces.

Let’s start off with why I’m linking the ongoing pandemic to a conversation on this award category. This award sends the direct opposite message of one of the lessons from this pandemic. It encourages people to always be in class or work, regardless of whether they are sick or feeling mentally unwell. In this day and age, when we are seeing a lot of statistics saying people are taking less sick days from work, should we really be offering a reward for not taking any time to care for yourself?

In fact, through what I’ve heard from people in Durham Region, these types of rewards can make children, who don’t win, feel quite bad about themselves. Those who don’t have perfect attendance can feel alienated from their peers, sometimes for causes which are out of their control. Students with chronic illnesses, chronic pain or other medical issues or viruses should not feel punished or left out. If Ontario’s experiences with COVID-19 have taught us anything, it’s your health should always come first.

Now, one reason I’m also not a fan of this award category is, it only rewards someone for showing up. It doesn’t encourage good or efficient work, but, instead, just rewards someone for being there.

Personally, while I value punctuality and attendance, I’ve found what is of greater importance in the workplace is doing quality work and finding ways to do it as efficiently as possible. To put this in perspective, you can have perfect attendance but still provide sloppy work, have low productivity due to inefficiency, or produce poorly due to laziness. That is why I think schools and workplaces should put the onus on encouraging quality work and quality use of your time.

Once this pandemic is officially over, I believe, perfect attendance awards should be a thing of the past.

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