When being present is a bad thing…

Something I thought would never happen has just happened…

Sick at work...

Sick at work…

I found myself sitting in front of my Lead Challenge Inspire ‘add new post’ page… topic-less! Blank. Empty. White. Clear. Page. With flu-affected brain cells to add a bit of fuzziness.

Then my phone rang (saved by the bell!). It was Mark, an ex-client and HR specialist. We started talking about ‘presenteeism’, a concept that has boomed in the last few years in the HR space. Defined as  ‘coming to work while sick’, presenteeism is becoming a very important issue in organisations for two reasons. The first – and obvious – rationale is that sick employees are likely to spread their illnesses across the business, causing for more people to be sick. Plus, they will take longer to recover if they don’t rest. The second problem lies at a much deeper level in the structure and/or culture of the organisation. If sick employees feel they must come into work, it could be that: 1) the business doesn’t have sufficient resources and therefore people feel they must be there for the job to get done, or; 2) the culture of the organisation focuses on hard work – no matter what. Managers and leaders don’t encourage sick employees to stay at home (or only pay it lip service) and they probably come into work themselves when they’re sick.

Why do you go to work when you’re sick? What needs to change in your attitude? Why are your colleagues or employees coming into work when unwell? What does presenteeism cost to your organisation? What cultural traits encourage such behaviour?

Being sick often requires the will power to not do what you always do and the humility to realise that the world will keep on turning despite that.

As for me, it looks like my congested sinuses have actually served a purpose by bringing ink to my page. Cheers to that! So now, I’ll take my tissue box, Eucalyptus drops and cup of tea and head to the couch (after doing a few work emails, of course! 😉 ).

2 thoughts on “When being present is a bad thing…

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