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How many of us have gone to work sick? Probably more of us than we want to admit. Why do we do it? There are several reasons why a person would go into work sick, the main reasons most likely being money and pressure from a boss. This action is known as presenteeism and seems like it’s becoming more common. It’s also becoming a problem for employers.

So as an employee and an employer, how can this issue become a non-issue? Keep reading to find out!

Combatting Presenteeism as the Employee

Work can be one of the most stressful aspects of our lives. From demanding clients and bosses to seemingly endless workloads with looming deadlines, work can easily make us feel overwhelmed. This feeling of being overwhelmed can negatively impact our physical and mental health, making us unwell.

But missing work has its repercussions. Missing a day or two of work means you don’t get paid for that time- unless you have protected time off, vacation days, or paid sick leave. With bills, student loans, and other financial factors to consider, missing one day of work can put more stress on you. Missing work might also make your boss overlook you for special projects or a promotion when the time comes.

So as an employee, you might feel presenteeism is your only option. But by showing up for work sick, you risk making your health worse and possibly getting your co-workers sick, which no one will thank you for! So as an employee, how can you avoid presenteeism and also avoid taking sick days? Here are a few tips that might be able to help with that.

  • Rest: Getting a deep and full nights rest can make a big difference, especially when you’re feeling unwell. So make sure you get your 8 hours-or however many hours you require- to ensure your body is functioning optimally.
  • Proper nutrition: It might sound cliché and overused, but eating healthy and staying hydrated really can help if you’re sick or becoming sick. So instead of eating those Doritos with your lunch, swap them out for some orange slices. By eating healthy, you can prevent becoming sick.
  • Relaxation: A stressed and overworked mind won’t be as productive as a calm and organized mind. So allow yourself time away from work to get your thoughts in order and de-stress. Exercise, reading a book, and taking a bubble bath are just a few examples of things you can do to relax.

Combatting Presenteeism as the Employer

As the boss, it’s your job to ensure that the company is running smoothly. It’s your responsibility to ensure that deadlines are being met, that productivity is up, and that your clients are having their needs met. But you also need to ensure that employee morale is up. Because employees that feel underappreciated won’t work as hard as employees who do feel appreciated.

Though presenteeism shows that your employee wants to work, there is a cost of presenteeism happening in the workplace. Besides the risk of other employees getting sick, employees who are feeling unwell won’t be working as hard, meaning productivity loss will occur. And with productivity down, other problems can start to occur such as missed or delayed deadlines, needing to redo work, and client complaints to name a few.

So as an employer, how can you help reduce presenteeism in the workplace? Here a few tips to help you out!

  • Communication: Talking to your employees can help prevent presenteeism. By being empathetic and creating a space where they feel they can talk openly and honestly, it will help you catch any issues that might be going on. It will also allow your employees to feel like they can take a sick day when needed and not stress about work not getting done.
  • Cross-train employees: This might not be possible for all employers, but for a huge number of you it is possible. For example- If you work at a grocery store, you can cross-train your employees to run the register, stocking, receiving freight, etc. By having multiple employees who can do multiple jobs, it will allow them to feel better about taking a sick day when needed.
  • Flexible scheduling: How many times have you had to send an employee home because they decided to come to work while ill? Probably more times than you can remember. Or how many times has an employee had to leave work early due to a sick child? Probably more times than you can remember. By offering employees the option to work from home, you allow them to still get their work done, but without passing their illness onto other employees.
  • Focus on employee health: There has always been a great emphasis put on physical health, but not as much on mental health. Mental health issues can cause just as many issues, if not more, than a cold or the flu. By giving employees the tools needed to help with all their health problems, you’re allowing them to help combat anxiety and depression, sickness, and stress.

If you have suffered an illness as a result of work and feel that your company is pressuring you into participating in presenteeism, contact a lawyer and seek legal advice.

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