How to Stop Sick Employees from Coming to Work

Sick employees are also less productive and contagious, so they will hamper the overall performance of the workplace.

woman sneezing at her work desk into a tissue

On the surface, it seems obvious that sick employees would want to stay home and would be allowed to do so by their employers. Sick employees are uncomfortable and working will likely prolong their illness. Sick employees are also less productive and contagious, so they will hamper the overall performance of the workplace and potentially make other employees, managers, and customers sick.

Unfortunately, employees may come to work sick despite the known disadvantages because they fear missing a day’s pay, don’t want to burden others by missing work, or because they have a project that they wish to see finished. Managers may allow workers to come in sick – or even demand it – to avoid being short staffed. The following tips may help to stop these practices for the benefit of all.

Provide Sick Day Pay

Providing sick pay helps to ease the burden on an employee when they’re sick, making the decision to stay home much easier. While managers and white collar workers are often offered sick pay, blue collars workers tend to suffer without sick pay. By offering all workers sick pay, a company may actually benefit their bottom line while protecting workers and improving their image.

Encourage Managers to Send Sick Employees Home

Managers may look the other way when an employee is coughing if sending that employee home will make the day more difficult. Encouraging managers to send sick employees home and offering options like calling in another employee or shifting the workload may help make it easier for managers to follow through with the directive to send sick employees home. If a shift goes poorly because a manager sent a sick employee home, being compassionate about the situation can also work wonders.

Offer to Let Employees Work from Home

If the job is such that an employee can work from home to avoid falling behind or dealing with staffing issues, this may be a reasonable option. Working from home allows the employee to stay up-to-date with projects, without risking infecting other employees or customers. Unfortunately, a sick employee is still a sick employee, so productivity should not be expected to remain the same if this option is chosen.

Make Calling Out Painless

Calling out is somewhat nerve wracking for many, as there is the thought that other employees will be burdened and work will fall behind. Adding to the stress by scrutinizing the reasons for a call-out or acting grumpy about the call may discourage employees from calling out and make them more likely to simply come in sick. Call-outs should be met with compassion.

Institute Wellness Programs

If employees are well, they won’t have to worry about whether or not to come in sick. Instituting wellness programs and encouraging employees to take control over their health and well being may benefit both employees and the company by reducing the incidence of illness and the number of sick days taken. This can in turn increase productivity, making for a good ROI on any costs associated with starting a wellness program.


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