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Encourage Your Employees to Keep Their Germs at Home

March 17, 2014 | Staffing Blog


Employees often joke about using their sick days when they are simply “sick of work” and need a day on the couch, on the golf course or reading at a coffee shop. But, in truth, employees don’t really take sick days when they are actually sick.

A survey by Staples found 90% of American workers head to the office when they aren’t feeling well and know they are contagious. That kind of “tough it out culture” only breeds germs and more sickness so why not encourage employees to stay home when they need to focus on battling the flu or other contagious illness.

For office workers, in particular, it’s likely a good deal of their work can be done at home. If an employee can still check email or finish a presentation, encourage her to work from the couch and don’t count it as a sick day. When an employee is down for the count, let him know it’s OK to take a couple days off to fully recover. Wouldn’t you rather have someone out for two or three days and get better than continue to miss work because he never truly got over the flu? Or have an entire department calling in sick because they kept passing around the germs?

This article from Inc. magazine has some good tips for setting reasonable sick day guidelines.

According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, 40 million workers don’t even have paid sick days another 4.2 million haven’t been on the job long enough to be eligible for the paid sick days they do have.

A good first step may be reviewing your Sick Days Policy. Are you putting your employees at risk by not offering paid sick days and therefore requiring them to come to work when they are ill and contagious? Should you make at least three sick days available to employees soon after they start? If your company is concerned about people abusing the policy, limit the number of paid sick days and require a doctor’s note after two or three days.