Today's guest post is from our board member, John Hollon. Â John is the VP of Editorial at TLNT.com and a frequent contributor to this blog. Â As flu season commences, John reflects on how organizations can mitigate the problem of sick people coming to work and infecting their coworkers. Â Spoiler alert: it's about not penalizing employees for doing the right thing.
Now that the summer is gone and the fall is here, Iâ€™m reminded of the changing seasons by this annual event.
You know what Iâ€™m talking about.. No, not the fall colors or the cooler weather â€¦ but the signs hawking flu shots at just about every store, except maybe Macyâ€™s, that I go into.
And that means that flu season is right around the corner.
The good news is that the survey found that a large majority of workers seem to have a great awareness of what they need to do to help prevent getting the flu, including that a whopping 90 percent of respondents â€œknow they can protect themselves from the flu by eating right and washing hands regularly.â€
The bad news, however, is pretty bad: Employees still come to work when they are sick.
Of the 30 percent of respondents who came down with the flu last year, â€œ55 percent still went to work sick, and although 59 percent say they should stay home when sick for two to three days, only 43 percent actually do so.â€
Yikes, if more than half of workers who get the flu are going to work with the flu, we have a big workplace problem on our hands.
Is there anything worse than getting sick â€“ especially with the flu â€“ and being dumb enough to take to work to share with all your co-workers?
Yes, there is something worse â€“ being forced to come to work because you donâ€™t have any paid sick days you can take instead.
â€œMissed work due to illness costs employers in the U.S. $225 billion annually, and the cost of presenteeism â€“ or diminished performance resulting from attending work sick or under the influence of medication â€“ is estimated at $150 billion or higher. Â We can do better than that. But wouldnâ€™t more paid sick leave, let alone mandatory sick leave result in even more lost productivity?â€
The answer to that, as TLNT points out, is a big fat â€œno,â€ because we have plenty of research showing that paid leave actually increases morale and productivity in addition to reducing absenteeism and turnover.â€
The Staples survey makes it clear â€“ workers know what they need to do to prevent getting the flu. But, all the knowledge in the world doesnâ€™t help if employees know what to do but canâ€™t actually follow through and do it because they have to work because they donâ€™t get paid sick days.
Remember that when you get your next flu shot: Yes, prevention is great, but prevention without paid sick leave and the ability to stay home sick is only going to negate all that smart prevention and make us sicker.
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