Monday, March 24, 2014

How to manage sick days

As a child, I was taught that I had to go to school unless my fever was over 100˚F. That mindset has carried over to how I handle being sick as a working professional. In my mind, it doesn't matter if I'm just a little sick. 80% productivity is better than no productivity. Even if I'm feeling awful, I still go into work if I have looming deadlines to meet. But regardless of how sick I am, if I go into work, I get all those looks. You know the looks I'm talking about - the ones that tell you you're like the devil’s snotty step-daughter, just because you came in with the sniffles.

Whenever someone comes into work sick, there is always an unspoken clash. Some people (primarily the coworkers in near proximity to the ill individual) are angry that the infectious creature has come in to transmit their illness to the entire group. Whereas the person who is sick, especially if you are a new hire like myself, feels like she needs to always have her nose to the grindstone so that she can prove that she's dedicated, loyal, and efficient. When you're sick, it can even get to the point where you need to prove that you're an asset and that a measly fever won't deter you from accomplishing your work. So you put your nose to the grind stone, even if it's dripping with snot. (That just helps to lubricate the stone anyways, right?)

Image by Naomi, our newest contributor!
When you are sick, you are of one mindset, but when you are the healthy individual, trying to deter the transmitted illness, you're of the other mindset. Some people are literally begging you to take a sick day, while you are begging to let you prove that you're worth something.

This is true, even if you're not ill with anything that is transmittable. Earlier this week, one of my coworkers was feeling very ill because of a panic attack that she had, and my coworkers were trying to convince her to go home and take the time to recover. For the sake of this story, I'll cast my sick coworker as Angie, her boyfriend as Freddie, and the coworkers who were trying to gang-press her into taking a sick day as The Mobsters.
Angie: I'm not feeling great now, but I'll just take a nap in my car for a few hours and be fine.

The Mobsters: To heck with the job. Close up your stuff, give us your cell phone. We’ll call Freddie and tell him to meet you at the house. You’re going home and you’re going to bed.

Angie: But I could just take a small nap here for a few hours and then come back to life.

The Mobsters: Your job is not more important than your health.

Angie: I feel better now. Sometimes I get panic attacks.

The Mobsters: You didn’t get enough sleep. That’s why.

Angie: I should just sleep in my car. I’m feeling better, I promise.

The Mobsters: It doesn’t make sense to sleep in your car when you can sleep at home.

You can get your car tomorrow.

Angie: Fine, okay. I'll head home.
Despite the fact that I called them "the mobsters," I think that my coworkers actually did a very good thing in looking out for Angie. Additionally, I think they said something which can act as a good rule of thumb, "Your job is not more important than your health." Further, I think that there is an addendum I would like to add, "Your job is not more important than your coworkers' health." 

Image by Naomi, our newest contributor!

In fact, these two mantras are what I now use to determine if I'm going to take a sick day or not. I ask myself these two questions: 

  1. Am I going to hurt myself by going to work? 
  2. Am I going to hurt my coworkers by going to work? 
If you cannot answer "no" to both of these questions, then you really should stay home, despite whatever deadlines are looming over your head because your job should not take precedence over health and safety. 

1 comment :

  1. That's a pretty good way to gauge most decisions in life, Will it hurt me? Will it hurt others?

    I was fortunate enough to not be sick for about three years once, which of course didn't prevent me from taking a couple of weeks of sick days per year.


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