If you're sick or have a cold, please do us all a favor and don't show up to work.

It is getting to be that time of year when people start coming to work with bad colds, the beginnings of the flu, or whatever other sicknesses come up in the winter.  Even those of us who are not crazy germaphobes, cannot help but notice the sneezing and sniffling and wheezing. There are people who come into work even when they should be on their way to the hospital.  I’ll let you in on how I deal with this issue in my own business in a moment, but I think it’s important to at least try to understand some of these people who just will not miss a day at the office.

As I understand it, there are a few different reasons that people refuse to stay away from the office.  Some people just love their jobs and an equal number just need to get out of the house, whether they are sick or not.  Just as many do not realize that having a cold is a real sickness that you can pass along to others at work.  But, of course, colds are often highly contagious!  A whole lot of people do not think a cold is reason enough to stay home from work.  Those people are wrong!  I have heard from people who will go to work unless they have a fever.  That is not a good measuring stick because colds can pass through an office as quickly as they run through a 2nd grade class.  And no one wants to hear you hacking and coughing, either.  Most bosses agree that they do not want sick people in the office.  If you’re up to it and your job allows, you should always try to work from home, but that is a different issue for a different time.  I recognize that it all seems like it can be quite confusing, which is why I have created an incredibly simple binary test to determine whether to stay home or not.  If I am not feeling well and am on the fence about whether or not to go into work, I ask myself if anyone at the office would notice that I was sick.  If I think even one person would notice, I get right back into bed.  

Then, there are the real lunatics, those people who are proud of their “never have taken a sick day” record, and wear it like a badge.  Putting the absurd immaturity of this nonsense aside, it is not as if these people never get sick, they just come into the office and get everyone else sick, even as they brag about never having missed a day of work.  Their gall astounds me.  I swear to you that I can smell these people out in an instance during an interview, and I do not find their so-called commitment cute at all--and I am not the only one.

Still more people are afraid of using too many sick days, and instead they store them like a squirrel does nuts fearing they may need them for a major illness that usually doesn’t come. Others like to exchange them for personal days, and so would rather come to work sick and not waste the day they could spend doing something else.  I understand both these impulses, but gosh is it selfish.   

I have clear rules about sicknesses at the Viscusi Group.  Bottom line is that I send someone home if I think they have a bad cold and may pass it along.  I disguise it as caring for the employee and wanting them to get some rest and get better, if I need to.  I do whatever I can to get them out.  And, of course, I do care about them getting better, but I also care about everyone else’s health as well!  When you are sick, you are usually working at half power anyway.  No boss wants that.

Now, sick days are abused on the other extreme as well.  I hear from as many bosses who tell me they have an employee who gets a paper cut and stays home from work.  Two sides to every coin, I suppose.  Let’s agree that there is a happy medium that is not too difficult to find.  This isn’t rocket science, folks.  If you have a cold or anything worse, or if your illness is otherwise contagious, stay out of the office.  This rule isn’t only to care for yourself, but it is also common decency.  When you hear someone say “I have the flu, and it is going around work,” there is a reason for that.  Someone brought it there.  If you’re going to bring anything into work, stick to cupcakes!