protect your paycheck!

  • career advice
  • October 02, 2018

Do you or your coworkers frequently show up to work even when you’re sick? If so, you’re not alone. Working while sick, often called “presenteeism” in human resource circles, is fairly common across many different industries.

In this article, we’ll show you why presenteeism not only costs employers an estimated $150 billion annually, but hurts your bottom line, too. Here’s why you should do the smart thing the next time you’re not feeling well, which is to stay in bed, rest up — and protect your paycheck.

what exactly is “presenteeism”?

Presenteeism simply refers to the practice of showing up to work when you’re not feeling your best. The exact cause can be anything from a common cold to chronic conditions like allergies, arthritis, depression or diabetes.

The opposite of presenteeism, as you may have guessed, is absenteeism — that’s when you voluntarily don’t show up at work, and you don’t have a valid reason, like injury or illness, for doing so. While some studies have found that, for companies, presenteeism actually leads to significantly higher costs than absenteeism, working when sick can have serious costs for you, too.

the high cost of working sick

Going to work is what gets you paid, so naturally you want to be there — even on those days when you aren’t feeling 100 percent. But that’s why it pays to think about your earnings from a slightly different angle, specifically, the future costs you’ll avoid by staying home, resting up and actually getting better.

Here’s a practical example: Studies show that employees who show up to work while sick are more likely to suffer negative health consequences down the line, like depression and cardiovascular disease. And who wants that?

That’s why the next time you’re not feeling well, you should stay in, rest up and get better. Your wallet will thank you in the long run.

don’t take it out on your coworkers

You’re closely involved with your coworkers every single day at work: They watch your back and help keep you safe at the job site. So think about your decision from their perspective. When you show up to work sick, you put them at risk of getting sick — which in turn could keep them out of work. By working sick, it’s almost as if you’re garnishing their paychecks.

But that’s not the only way your coworkers can be affected by your decision to work while sick. For example, illness generally makes you weaker and less focused than usual, which is a recipe for on-the-job accidents.

Plus, presenteesism has been linked to reduced productivity — and who do you think is going to be forced to pick up the slack when you show up to work sick? Your coworkers, that’s who.

key takeaways

It’s honorable to want to work hard every day and give it your all. But when you’re sick, you need to take a broader perspective. Working sick — particularly when you consider the ways it can negatively impact your long-term health, hurt overall productivity and jeopardize the safety of coworkers — simply isn’t worth the risk.

If you can keep these factors in mind the next time you aren’t feeling your best, trust us, it’ll make staying in bed and resting up an even more rewarding experience.