December is the most popular month for office parties – and for calling in sick; however, one is not dependent upon the other and despite it being the month of maladies, some workers will continue to turn up to the office.
Fisherman’s Friend conducted a survey into sick days, which revealed that the average amount of time taken off for minor ailments was just 1.67 days. 51% of the respondents did not take a single day off for the odd cough or cold; however, for most, this was not due to having a healthy constitution. Of those asked, 74% stated that they had continued to turn up to work despite feeling ill enough to stay at home.
Why do workers do it?
A similar survey by OfficeTeam found that 85% of employees would return to work whilst feeling sick. One of the main factors for workers turning up to work whilst under the weather was that they did not want to let down their colleagues; for others, a climate of insecurity at work caused them to show such undue commitment.
Whilst the motivation behind this is often to support colleagues, the bad news is that this is not always appreciated. OfficeTeam’s survey found that 42% of employees do not like a colleague to come to work when they are obviously sick. They have good grounds for being unappreciative, with two out of three full-time workers claiming that they had become ill as a result of sick colleagues turning up to work.
Bad for business
A survey conducted in the US by tax and business specialist CCH found that the effect of sick employees turning up to work was also costly to the business. It discovered that sick workers simply do not work as efficiently and are more likely to make mistakes and ignore safety issues. This is on top of making their colleagues sick.
Some workplaces have a culture of vilifying those who take sick leave, which can make it difficult for workers to take the time off they need. Requirements such as producing a doctor’s note on their return to work reinforce the message that minor ailments are not sufficient excuse to stay at home.
Whilst it is understandable that managers who are concerned about absenteeism should feel the need to be strict, this must be balanced against the negative effects upon the workforce of having sick workers.
It is perhaps time for HR professionals to persuade staff that showing up to work whilst sick causes more harm than good and to ensure managers acknowledge that the greater benefit to business comes from having a healthy and productive workforce.
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