Lovewell’s Logic: Why is illness still a taboo?

As winter draws ever closer (there are now just 62 days until Christmas!), so too does the inevitable cold and flu season.

Two pieces of research out this week, however, made for worrying reading. 

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

First, a survey by National Accident Helpline found that 89% of respondents go into work when they are unwell. The main reasons for doing so ranged from money worries to pressure from bosses and colleagues.

A further survey by insurer LV=, meanwhile, found that 70% of respondents return to work early when they are suffering from stress, again, because they are concerned about what colleagues may think or because they feel guilty.

Whether staff are contagious or not, soldiering on and continuing to work when they are not fit enough to do so will only prolong the length of time they are suffering, and they are unlikely to be at their productive best while feeling under par. Not to mention the risk of infecting colleagues in some cases.

Yes, it’s only natural to feel a degree of guilt about the extra work you may be causing colleagues (I know I often do), but in most teams everyone will cover for someone else at some point.

Problems only arise in workplaces where staff and managers are not understanding and supportive of one another. And these are symptomatic of an issue requiring much greater cultural change before employers even begin to think about tackling absence.

So, while we may not be able to dodge the winter sniffles – particularly those of us that use public transport on a daily basis – employees that have a supportive employer will bounce back much more quickly.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell