Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Just how sick do you need to be before you stay home from work?

woman sick at work
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In this world there are two types of people. Those who show up for work no matter how sick they are and those who stay home. Which one are you?

As I wipe down my desk and keyboard with a bleach wipe I ponder both sides of this bitterly divided argument. A recent Kimberly-Clark survey says 59 percent of us still go to work when under the weather; yet more and more businesses encourage sick employees to STAY HOME.
In this corner we have the tough guy (or gal). Nothing keeps him down. Apparently he is indispensable. His eyes are red. His nose is running. He coughs violently without covering his mouth and sneezes through meetings and conferences calls. His desk is piled high with used tissues. Perhaps he even sees himself as a hero, too important to let a cold or flu keep him home.

Yet, the "hero" may be doing much more harm than good, possibly infecting others or compromising the quality of their own work.

And in this corner we have the germaphobe. Hand sanitizer? Check. Bleach wipes? Check? Surgical mask? Check. This guy opens doors with a paper towel and flushes with anger when anyone coughs, sneezes or even clears their throat. At the first sign of illness he calls in sick.

Some might think this person is a slacker or underachiever, letting a case of the sniffles keep him home. However, they may actually be doing everyone at the office a big favor.

A new Staples ad takes a humorous approach to the importance of a germ-free office. An office worker diligently cleans and sanitizes his workspace only to have an inconsiderate co-worker sneeze all over him. Eww!! Funny, disgusting and effective. And of course they have plenty of products to keep your place of business clean.



Offices can be a hotbed of bacteria and viruses. Bathrooms, break rooms, kitchens and common spaces all providing fertile ground for colds, flus and more. Does your organization have a clear policy on what to do when you are sick?

Many businesses send out mixed signals. Company policy might demand that employees take a sick day, but management may subtly reward those who suck it up and take one for the team while quietly condemning the folks who opt to take a day or two to recover. Why is this line so unclear and why do company policies often differ from reality?

If you need clear guidelines on when to stay home, Web MD has you covered. Want to know how to stay healthy at work and prevent colds and the flu? About.com has eight great tips.

So next time you're feeling a little banged up, do yourself and your co-workers a favor. Be a real hero. Stay home, sleep and recover. The work will still be there when you get back and the business will likely survive without you. And keep some bleach wipes in your desk!
Bill Hartnett

Bill Hartnett

Contributor

Bill Hartnett is a digital, marketing and social media consultant with extensive cable, broadcast and digital experience. He began his career in Seattle and worked at NBC News, Current TV, WNBC, WWOR-TV and more. He has spent the last few years learning how to navigate the treacherous waters of job search so you don't have to.

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Mercy Akinlosotu

I'm one of those who go to work no matter how sick they are. I never get compensated for that during review. The reason I do that though is because I think about others so much that I forget myself. Thinking if I call in sick, it will affect my co-workers because they will be short. And for those who do that because they are afraid what will happen to them, Bill Hartnett has pointed out that WEB MD has guidelines to guide them. Thanks Bill this post is very informative.

March 12 2014 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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