It’s that time of year again. You’re waking up in the morning, feeling like you were beaten all night long with a baseball bat. Your sinuses are stuffed or worse, draining faster than Snoqualmie Falls. Your head is pounding and burning hotter than the sun, but you remember you don’t have any sick leave left or even worse, your company has a policy against calling out on specific days. Those are called block days and this policy is used to intimidate employees into coming to work sick.
Any employer who has such passive aggressive attendance policies that scares employees into showing up to work, when they are sick. Really need to sit down with their Human Resources Manager and come up with a new policy. These policies have been shown to cause greater losses in productive manpower and drastically reduces profits and employee efficiency.
As every Operations Manager is now calling me an idiot and not knowing what I am talking about, “because employees will take advantage of it and will call out sick on every nice day or whenever they feel like it.” I will reply to them, employees will only take advantage if you let them. Companies that use these blanket “block days” are only those who have lazy managers & supervisors and/or weak and ineffective attendance policies. Now let me say, this excludes employers that have union employees, because you are not only guided by your attendance policy but also contracts and while I cannot give you guidance without knowing what specifically is written into your union contract, I can say, you might want to think about this during your next contract negotiations.
I am not saying that employees do not take advantage of attendance policies, but that is another topic. What this article is about is encouraging those who are legitimately sick to stay home and to consider your current attendance policies if you have employees who are showing up to work sick.
First let’s focus on the problem caused by those employees who wake up sick, fever, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and everyone’s favorite explosive diarrhea and decide they are warrior. They are not going to let the boss or the team down. They drag their burning, leaking, chilled, and oozing body into work. As they denie their illness by masking it with a few over the counter medicines that may dry up the mucus, bring down the fever, and even pause the bodily fluids that were expediting earlier. This candidate for Employee of the Month is now bringing their illness to work. Unlike the donuts they brought in the week before, the virus and germs, will not burn off with an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill. The bug will infest not just those who come in direct contact, but can infect the innocent just passing by or coming in later. This article is not about preventing illness, but hopefully everyone is now running to put alcohol on their hands and start wiping everything down, to include keyboards, chairs, desks, restrooms, breakrooms, and the meeting rooms.
Now remember that Operations Manager who was cursing me earlier, calling me an idiot. Well, that one legitimately sick employee has now taken out your entire team. Like a silent grenade, the sick employee exploded their germs and virus’s all over the place. Over the next few days, more and more employees become sick and have to call out or worse, they take the virus home and infect their children who now have to remain home and as a good parent, now they must call out from work to take care of them, because they cannot take them to daycare or school. But within the new infected group, there will be one commando who will drag their body to work and those who were spared from the first germ grenade, the next barrage will surely get them.
How do I know this? Once upon a time, I came down with the flu for the first time in my life. Hit me hard on Saturday and Monday I called out. Again on Tuesday. Tuesday night my boss called me and said, I have to come in on Wednesday. So as the good employee, I did. I did stop vomiting, but that changed to everyone’s favorite, explosive diarrhea. I was still feverish and had lost about 8 pounds in a few days. Every 15 minutes I was commanded by my body to rush to the bathroom. Long story short, I made it to noon and had to leave again. Why did my boss want me to come in? Because he wanted me to show him how to fill out a report (coming soon to my articles “How to Prepare a Turnover Folder and Standard Operating Procedure Manuals”)
I was out of work for the entire week, on Saturday, I was able to eat and on Monday I was back to work. On that same Monday, three of my co-workers who had been at work on the previous Wednesday were home enjoying the same violent illness I just finished. By that Wednesday, several others called out. I felt horrible for this, but it wasn’t my fault, I tried to do the right thing, but our ineffective policies (not attendance) caused this disaster.
The point to all of this is, do not make your SICK Employees come to work. If you believe they are faking and they are out longer than 3 days, you can ask them to bring in a doctor’s note. But to protect your company, make sure it’s part of your Attendance Policies. If you have employees who habitually call out with the blue sky flu. Keep a record of it and you can use it on their reviews or even for disciplinary actions. Do not be afraid of holding your employees accountable for their actions. But also, don’t make their afraid to do what is right and that is not showing up to work sick. Coordinate with your employees to help quarantine the virus and not infect the productivity of your company.