Coughing. Sneezing. Blowing noses. Sometimes the workplace sounds less like an office and more like a hospital ward, especially when the winter chills hit hard.
If you’re not feeling great, do yourself and your co-workers a favour – call in sick. You’ll likely get better faster and save your employer money. Yes, there’s a financial price to coming to work ill. It’s called ‘presenteeism’ (working while sick) and it costs employers billions annually. Ironically, ‘Presenteeism’ actually costs employers more than ‘absenteeism’
Why? Because sick employees aren’t just ineffective in their own roles, they infect co-workers who then need to take time off themselves – or, come in sick and spread the germs further.
While most people do get paid sick leave, there’s a part of our psyche that causes us to worry that if we don’t go in, the work won’t get done, or it will pile up so high we’ll never be able to get through it all when we get back. That’s especially true these days when it seems everyone is doing more work with less resources.
People don’t want to stay home and add to their co-workers’ workloads either, just because they’ve got the sniffles, but in the end, it hurts the business more than it helps.
When to Use Sick Leave
Yes, if it’s really nothing more than sniffles, go on in. To be safe, wash your hands more often, don’t touch anyone else’s phone or keyboard and always cough or sneeze into a tissue. Hand sanitiser also helps.
Ideally though, with any true cold, even just a minor one, you should stay home. Definitely call in sick if you’ve got a stuffed nose, cough, chest congestion or are throwing up. And never go into the office with a fever.
In short, if you think you could be contagious in any way, it’s just not fair to go in. People showing up at work sick are a much bigger concern than people missing work when they’re not really ill.
Time is a Healer
It’s not only about being considerate of your co-workers; staying home a day or two may shorten the illness, meaning you’ll be back on deck at work faster.
Perhaps you’ll feel better taking the day off if you know how many sick and personal days you have annually. When you call in sick, try to reach your manager directly by phone. Explain that you’re not feeling well and you don’t want to expose everyone else in the office to whatever you’ve got.
Prevention is Definitely Better than Cure
What can you do to stay healthy? Get a flu shot. Many employers offer them to their employees for free. Use personal hand sanitiser, especially during the flu season and encourage your workplace to put antibacterial soap handy in the bathrooms and kitchens. Using disposable paper towels instead of hand towels for washing your hands is a great way to avoid germs.
The most common way to get a cold or the flu is not what you might expect. You’re more likely to pick up bugs by touching something contaminated by someone infected rather than someone sneezing or coughing in your face.
Employers can do their part, too. Having signs up in staff common areas about healthy hygiene practises is a great start. Dressing appropriately is another. We always see an increase in enquiry for warmer uniforms and accessories in the lead up to winter. Smart employers know that the cost of both absenteeism and presenteeism can be minimised by making sure employees are warm on the way to and from the workplace, and while they’re there – especially if their role involves going between a warm office and say, a cold warehouse. It works for everyone because the employees get free branded uniforms and the employer gets warm, productive team members, with the benefit of sending their brand out and about.
Jackets, Coats, Jumpers, Cardigans, Hoodies, Beanies, Gloves, Scarves & Umbrellas can all play a big part in keeping you and your team happy and healthy during winter!