4 reasons for PR pros to stay home if they’re sick

Do you have a co-worker whose cough sounds like she belongs in a hospital?

Given all that we know about how colds, flu, and other nasty viruses spread (particularly in January, the height of flu season), and given that many companies now allow employees to work from home, not to mention laws that many employees get paid time off for illness, why do so many professionals go to work sick?

For those who need convincing, here are four reasons to stay home:

1. You can make others sick.
Covering your cough, washing your hands, using tissues, and sneezing into your sleeve are good ways to prevent the spread of germs, but you’re still contagious. Even if you confine yourself to your cube or office, you touch the same stuff as your co-workers: door handles, elevator buttons, bathroom faucets.

Consider that some of your colleagues may have an infant or young child at home, or maybe they take care of an elderly relative. Spreading your germs to you co-workers can also spread germs to their family members.


2. You are more likely to make a mistake.
The work you do when you’re sick is not going to be the same as when you’re well. Forbes reports that “presenteeism” (employees coming to work when they are ill and not able to function at their usual level) results in a total annual cost of $150 billion in lost productivity.

“Employees who are ‘out of it’ tend to make more mistakes, spend more time on tasks and struggle to make sound decisions,” it writes.


3. You may stay sick longer.
Working when you should be resting can weaken your immune system and delay your recovery. Researchers in Denmark found that people who go to work when sick more than six times a year had a 74-percent higher chance of being absent due to a long-term illness later on.


4. You might be setting a bad example
What kind of message is she sending when the department head brags about coming to work while contagious? She may think she’s setting a good example, revealing her commitment to her job and demonstrating her work ethic. She may think her boss will appreciate the “face time” she puts in at the office.

More likely, she’s telling her co-workers that staying home when sick is frowned upon, and that being at the office is important, no matter what. She may also be communicating that she doesn’t care if she makes other people sick.


Not sure if you should call in sick or go to work? These guidelines from WebMD may help.

Care to share your experiences with ill co-workers who refuse to go home? Share your stories below.


This post was first published on Ragan Communications PR Daily.


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