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Feel the Pressure to Work When Sick? You’re Not Alone

As the winter flu season prepares to descend, expect to see more people coming to work sick. Even though most people know that their job performance suffers, many feel they have no choice. That, and other psychological factors may also be at play.

With the Christmas and winter holiday season on the horizon, some may experience additional pressure. This can include needing to manage their workload for upcoming time off, or needing the pay to handle the extra costs associated with the holiday season.

However, those aren’t the only reason someone may report to work sick. Here are some of the top reasons people report to work while ill, and whether you should do the same.

They Don’t Know How Sick They Are

Sometimes, it is hard to determine exactly how sick you are, especially if you have been experiencing work stress. Many people don’t feel great first thing in the morning. Whether it is not enough sleep, or working long hours, the fatigue of an illness can be hiding behind normal tiredness.

It might take a few hours for someone to realize that they are sick. Once that determination is made, many people force themselves through the rest of the day. This is especially true for anyone who can’t imagine facing their boss to get the rest of the day off.

There is also no specific metric that says that you are definitely too sick to go to work. Illness is subjective in how it feels, so if one person managed well at work with their recent illness, you may feel compelled to act accordingly. However, being contagious may not be well received. Additionally, certain medications may make working a non-option.

Job Security Fears

Not everyone feels secure in their job. Whether it is due to recent performance reprimands or a highly demanding position, it isn’t uncommon to be afraid that calling in sick will cost you more than a day’s work. Some bosses put pressure on employees to show up regardless of their personal situation. And once that expectation is established, it can flourish across the office.

Each workplace has a unique culture. Co-workers take cues from one another and from their supervisors. Once a pattern of working sick has begun, most employees feel they must meet that standard.

Loss of Pay

One of the biggest fears are held by those who are not financially secure. If the idea of missing a day’s wages puts your budget at risk, you may try to push through the pain. Many people are living pay check to pay check, and missing a day of work means they can’t make ends meet. This fear leads them to work regardless of the risk to their health.

Contractors and freelancers may feel this pain especially. Most jobs completed on a project basis do not come with the benefit of sick days. Most of these workers are functionally self-employed, so a lost day is going to cost them no matter how long they have been working in the position.

Is Going to Work Sick Worth It?

With risks to job security and household budgets, it can seem worth it to work through an illness. However, by not giving yourself the time to rest, you could make your illness worse. You also increase the risk of passing on the sickness to other people, putting others in your workplace in jeopardy. Most recommendations say to stay home if you are sick. Not only is it better for your body, it is also better than exposing other people along the way.

In some cases, you may have the option to do some work from home. This can help you stay on top of critical tasks while giving yourself an opportunity to rest. You can also avoid spreading the illness to others. If you job can be at least partially performed from home, see if there are options available that can allow you to stay safely at home while still getting some work done.

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