Being Sick

by Sharlyn Lauby on December 21, 2009

Several of my blogging colleagues have written about the flu and going to work sick.  You can read a couple of them here and here.  But, that’s not the focus of today’s post.  I’d like to think any reasonably intelligent human being understands if they’re sick and/or contagious, they should not go to work.  No matter what time of year.  It just seems logical.

So when I hear reports of people going to work and coughing / hacking / sneezing / wheezing all over their co-workers and office surroundings…I think, something is terribly wrong.  The question is…what is it?  Why would people subject themselves to being at work when they’re miserable (and make everyone around them miserable)?  So far, I’ve only come up with two reasons:

No sick pay benefits. I realize many companies have restructured their benefit packages in light of economic times.  Hopefully that doesn’t mean they eliminated an employee sick benefit. That would be pretty stupid. Or maybe they’ve never offered a sick pay benefit in the first place.  But this is something organizations should evaluate…is it cheaper to pay sick benefits or subject a whole office to germs and the resulting downtime?  Hate to say it, but there’s a reason the Obama administration is looking to legislate sick pay benefits .

Fear of losing their job. This sounds completely senseless, but I hear a lot of people say they’re afraid to take a sick day because they might lose their job.  Personally, I can’t imagine any manager saying “Get your germ infested, runny nose self into work or else, you’re fired.”  But I guess anything is possible (see: “That would be pretty stupid” above).

And seriously, I do realize there are workaholic types out there who attempt to drag themselves into work even when they don’t feel well…on some levels, I’m one of them.  But when I’m truly sick.  I’m sick.  And I’m smart enough to understand I will get better faster if I stay home and rest.  And, I won’t tick off my fellow co-workers by getting them sick.

Make sure your employees understand their health is important and encourage them to take proper care of themselves.  In the end, it benefits them and the company.

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