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February 9, 2014

Sick at work? How to balance work and health

HR professional: Balance work and health

It’s flu season. You wake up with puffy eyes and a runny nose.

But you can’t call in sick to work. You’ve got a job to do — or maybe you’re worried your job might not be there once you’re well again.

So what do you do?

Most employees opt to go to work, whether because of their own work ethic, pressure from their managers or fear of job loss during the recent economic downturn. And there can be such a thing as “not sick enough,” according to a local human resources professional.

One survey of more than 6,300 UK professionals published in 2012 found nearly 60 percent had reported going to work when they felt sick during a three-month period. Two-thirds of them told the researchers they were their own pressure to go to work, while a fifth said that pressure came from their managers.

A more recent survey of about 700 office employees and managers in the U.S. conducted by OfficeTeam, an office staffing service, found even more reported frequently working while they felt sick.

According to an OfficeTeam press release, 70 percent of the professionals surveyed said they’d done so frequently, and 65 percent of the managers said they knew their employees came in to work while sick at least somewhat frequently.

Locally, some went to work while sick because recent snow events had already delayed their duties.

“With the amount of time that we’ve had off this year with the holidays and the snow days, there comes a point when you just have to get some things done,” Logansport-Cass County Chamber of Commerce director Megan Paschen said recently. “I don’t feel like I’m sick enough to stay home. I just have the sniffles.”

Others may be worried that too many sick days may translate into losing a job, according to the leader of a local human resources group.

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