Posted on: July 16, 2009 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

In the rife of pending deadlines, economical lay-offs and swarming in-boxes you get the flu! Tiredly you drag your body out of bed and go to work – doing the right thing? Wrong!

According to medical director of the Loyola University Health System Occupational Health Services, Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, people who come to work sick are more likely to hinder rather than help the company they work for.

Illness is known to spread from person to person and soon the entire work group can be impacted. This can have a serious impact on an organisation. Furthermore things such as job performance, productivity, creativity and financial stability can all be affected.

Don’t think that by washing your hands and taking over-the-counter medicines you are not spreading the germs either. Just being in a room and breathing around a sick person can spread the illness and coughing and sneezing only worsens the matter.

Illness can also interrupt productivity by creating a distraction and causing both the infected person and co-workers to focus on the illness instead of their jobs. It also blurs the lines between personal and professional lives and relationships.

Says Capelli-Schellpfeffer: “it is good for people to feel like a team and to care about other. However, it is not healthy for people to be invasive of each other’s privacy, which includes their medical privacy. It disrupts the interactions of the team and can be corrosive, even setting the stage for future judgments, misunderstandings and biases.”

When you contact a company and are greeted by someone coughing and sneezing – what is your initial reaction? Illness in the workplace can affect how outsiders view the stability of the company as well. It takes away from the integrity of the company brand and causes people to look at an organisation in a way that was not intended. If the person on the other end of the line is sick it can question the stability of the company, i.e. how much is the company hurting if they have sick employees working?

However, many employees feel that calling in sick makes them look weak and uncommitted, when they are trying to appear strong and devoted. It is also seen as an automatic job-eliminator for many in these turbulent economical times.

Employers should keep open communication channels and encourage employees who are sick to use their sick leave. Employees should be made aware of attendance policies and sick days. Many employees aren’t even aware that they are entitled to sick leave because they have never had the need to use it.

Contingency plans should also be in place to ensure that things run smoothly, such as working from home and making small changes to prepare for illness. This will protect the individual as well as the business.



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