Before the COVID-19 outbreak, most people would come into work if they had a mild illness. But this is a habit that could change moving forward as the pandemic has brought to light just how easy it is to transmit illnesses, with people’s personal hygiene habits and awareness at an all-time high. Going into work ill endangers others (and not just your colleagues), but there remains a stigma around calling in sick that needs to be removed.
The dangers of going to work when sick
Working when sick will usually impact your productivity, but you must also consider your colleagues. Coughing, touching surfaces and even being near your co-workers can put them at risk of catching certain illnesses, which could then spread throughout the office and significantly impact the operation. Not only this, but what might be a mild illness for you could be serious for the loved one of a colleague, so it is not just people in your office you need to think about.
Many working while ill
People are much more aware of the dangers of being around others when unwell, but many people have still been working while sick during COVID-19. Roller banner specialist instantprint recently surveyed 1,000 UK workers and quizzed them on how their attitude to calling in sick has changed. More than a fifth (22%) stated it would take a lot to call in sick even during the pandemic, while 21% claimed they were calling in sick less.
The issue of presenteeism
The main explanation for people calling in sick less is likely that many will be working from home. This means people do not have to worry about commuting to work and possibly making their co-workers and others unwell, but it is important to note that people should still call in sick if they are not well enough to work. Presenteeism is a major issue and one that can negatively affect the business, so you should not shy away from calling in sick if you need the time off for one reason or another.
Why people call in sick
The instantprint survey also looked at the top 10 ailments people have cited when calling in sick over the past year. These were:
- Flu (22%)
- Cold/cough/sniffles (18%)
- Headache/migraine (12%)
- Mental health (11%)
- Nausea (11%)
- Feeling ‘under the weather’ (11%)
- Physical injury (8%)
- Death of a family member (8%)
- Sickness of a family member (7%)
- Stomach problems (7%)
As many start returning to offices either in a full-time capacity or with hybrid working, people’s attitudes to calling in sick will likely change. Additionally, employers should encourage this because of the risk that sick people coming into work can present and the potential decrease in productivity. Every business wants a happy and healthy workforce, which means there should not be a stigma around calling in sick.
People are now much more aware of the dangers of coming into work when sick and how this puts others at risk. While many have been working while sick remotely, it is hoped that people will not feel pressured into coming into the office if they are feeling unwell as life starts to return to normal.