When I see someone battling a terrible sinus headache or taking multiple trips to the bathroom throughout my workday, I am baffled. Maybe it’s because I work in an industry where I’ve been afforded unlimited sick days. Or perhaps it’s just because I have common sense to know when I shouldn't be in the office because I’m not feeling well.
But I know quite a lot of people struggle with calling in sick for multiple reasons. Some feel it won’t “look good” to colleagues or managers. Others feel so committed to their work that they think that they have to complete their tasks no matter what.
As someone who has worked in career services for 15 years advising people on this very thing, here are five reasons I feel you should reconsider getting dressed and just stay in bed.
1. Your job is all about performance.
When I used to swim competitively as a teenager, I knew I had to get good rest and eat before a race or I would be dead last. Your job is about performance. And when you aren’t feeling your best, you can’t perform well. You risk not utilizing your talents or top strengths when the rest of your body and mind are struggling. Don't make them struggle.
2. Sick days help you avoid the worst possible scenario.
I recently had oral surgery on a Friday. Things were going well until Sunday night when my mouth continued to bleed incessantly. Throw in the fact that the antibiotics I was on were making me sick. I considered going into work since I thought calling in sick on a Monday was a rookie move. But then I envisioned my day. Was having a mouth full of blood a wise choice when I do a lot of public speaking? Did I have time in my day to run back and forth to the bathroom? Staying home helps you avoid getting sicker in the workplace, as well as helping you avoid any real embarrassing moments like throwing up at a staff meeting.
3. No one else wants to get sick.
Generations before mine HAD to show up to work because there was no such thing as paid sick time. But now, when flexible work scenarios are trending and everyone is more concerned with life outside of the office, no one wants to spend it being sick. So, do yourself and everyone else a favor and stay home so no one has to awkwardly Purell everything you’ve touched when you leave the copy room.
4. No one else cares.
That’s a bold statement, but think about it. Even the most important events can go on without you. How many celebrities cancel concerts with thousands of people ready to see them because of illness? With all of the technology we have there is essentially no job that can’t be done virtually. There is no information that can’t be sent via email, text, or Skype. The work can get done and essentially, no one will care if you are missing. They will be more focused on trying to execute whatever needs to happen without you.
5. You're setting back the big picture.
The bigger issue for all of us is that people are fighting for paid sick leave in this country. When individuals have the benefit and don’t take it, consider the message its sending to those who have been fighting for your rights (and the rights of others) to have this benefit. The working class now represents a new generation that is reconsidering how we want to live and work, and it’s a constant push and pull. When I see people coughing and sniffling around the office, I think they are setting us back by making it seem like sick days aren’t important, when they are.
Physical health is just as important as planning those mental health vacation days. Don’t spend your sick day feeling guilty about the unpredictable nature of the human body. We all get sick, and we all need to take a break so we can be our best selves. And at the end of the day, there really is no other good reason to sit and watch Netflix for hours.