Dec 22

Typhoid Mary-types need not apply

I enjoy reading employee e-mails saying they're 'sick as dogs' and will be working from home. Mind Typhoid-mary you, I'm not a sadist. Instead, I'm proud of the fact our employees know enough to stay home, take care of themselves and, critically, not spread their germs like some latter-day Typhoid Mary.

According to the fine folks from HALLS cough drops, though, my POV is unique. A survey they've just released says most Americans will still consider showing up to work when sick. A staggering 44 percent will go to work with a fever while almost a third will show up no matter HOW sick they get. (Ugh. Stay away from this blogger.)

Fear is driving this maniacal work-at-all- costs mentality. One in five HALLS survey respondents feel pressure by their boss or supervisor to head into work when they're ill. One in three say they wouldn't get paid for taking off for a sick day. And, more than 10 percent thought they wouldn't receive their next pay raise, promotion, or worse, if they stayed in bed (how positively Dickensian).

This is insane!

We make a big deal about worker health and productivity, and sometimes have to force people to go home if they're sneezing and hacking. We've actually had to stage interventions with certain maniacal workers who felt it more important to work than rest and recuperate.

I'm not sure if the HALLS results reveal a false perception on the part of employees or a genuine 'work at all costs' mentality on the part of management. If it's the latter, it's shortsighted, destructive and, ultimately, counter-productive. And, it will also adversely impact an organization's image and reputation (“Boy, those people at Moed Pharmacy show up for work even if they've got walking pneumonia. No way I ever work there.”).

So, send your sick employees home ASAP before they can infect the entire workforce. Communicate a stern message that employees who show up sick at work will be summarily turned around and sent home. Or, simply post a sign in the reception area and web site that reads: 'Typhoid Mary-types need not apply."