My Pet Peeve

Okay – so I really don’t have just one pet peeve; I have many – but this one has to be pretty much at the top. It drive me NUTS when folks go to school, work, gym, etc when they’re sick. There’s a new Human Resource term for it: presenteeism. Presenteeism is defined as when employees are at work physically, but not mentally.

I don’t really know why people do this. It seems like there’s a badge of honor associated with it. It’s as if they’re saying “I’m so committed to the company (working out, or whatever) that I’m here when I’m sick.” or maybe it’s an “I’m so tough that not even the flu can keep me down.”

Whatever the attitude or reasoning behind it, it’s just plain stupid. Pain and illness are your body’s way of telling you that there’s something wrong, and ‘it’ needs attention. That attention is usually “Back Off!” of whatever it is that you’ve been doing. When you’re sick & you continue with business as usual, you’re doing a few things:

  • You’re not giving your body the rest it needs in order to repair itself.
  • Because you’re not giving your body time to recover, you’ll prolong your recovery, and therefore be sick for a longer period of time than if you had just taken time out.
  • You’re infecting everyone that you come in contact with & that’s just rude.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Austin Fit City Summit last week. Austin’s Mayor, Will Wynn has an objective to make Austin the fittest city in the US by 2010. The Fit City Summit was a conference where stakeholders in our community gathered to learn how to implement programs to increase the health and wellness of Austinites.

At the Fit City Summit, I saw Earl Maxwell, CEO of St. David’s Community Health Foundation, present on implementing a wellness program at his previous company, Maxwell, Locke & Ritter.

He said that initially he implemented just two changes:

  1. Offered healthy choices in break rooms; when ever there were unhealthy choices, there had to be healthy food alternatives too.
  2. Refusing employees to show up to work sick.

Although it seemed counterintuitive at the time, by not allowing people to come to work when they’re sick, they reduced employee absences  dramatically (I don’t recall the metric, & don’t have a copy of his presentation).

It may not make initial sense, but if you want to be more productive, take time out. Let yourself recover. Whether you’re a parent or an employee: You can’t be of service to others if you aren’t 100% yourself – and you’re certainly not serving others if you make them sick in the process.

So next time you’re sick, stay home & get some rest. The world is not going to stop without you . It will be there when you get back & everyone will thank you.

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