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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Presenteeism

I am in the throes of a miserable cold and I know just who I got it from. I showed up for a meeting Thursday and the woman I was meeting with stuck out her hand for a hearty handshake. Though I do try my best to avoid shaking hands in the winter months to avoid picking up bugs, once she made the gesture, I had to go through with the handshake. Of course I realized too late that she was a veritable font of illness-spreading germs, as she spent the rest of the meeting sniffling and hacking away with the most awful-sounding chest cough. Great. Every time she talked in my direction I cringed and tried not to inhale. I even surreptitiously rubbed some of the hand sanitizer that I carry in my bag all over my hands during the meeting, hoping it would catch any little creepy crawlies I might have picked up before they got me good.

I guess I wasn't lucky enough to avoid them, though. By Friday night I felt a tickle in the back of my throat, and by Shabbos I was a mess. I hope to be in better shape by the time I get back to the office on Tuesday, as I'd rather not pass on the joy of a miserable head cold to my coworkers, even if it the same consideration wasn't shown to me by my coworkers.

Interestingly, the Ny Times ran a piece last week on just this phenomenon of showing up to work sick:
Ailing employees are dragging themselves to work in increasing numbers, according to several studies. So widespread is the phenomenon that experts have invented a name, calling it presenteeism, the opposite of absenteeism.
The article notes that many workers show up sick because the companies that they work for provide inadequate sick leave. Unfortunately, instead of increasing employee productivity, these inadequate sick leave policies probably reduce productivity when employees who come to work sick spread their germs at the water cooler, copier and at every doorknob, causing their coworkers to fall ill. In many cases, the cause for employees showing up to work sick isn't a matter of lacking sick days, but an employee who needs to be in for an important meeting or to work on a project.

Either way, I am clearly a victim of the practice dubbed presenteeism. And I'm not a happy camper.

7 Comments:

Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Another failure of the leave-everything-to-the-free-market ideology, which if course has no basis in Torah.

Please post your Hebrew name so we can pray for you to have a refuah shlemah.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

orthomom bas ------??

10:49 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I remember a company I once worked at had periodic 'wipe down your phone, wipe down your keyboard', day. They would hand out sanitizing towlettes to everyone.

It didn't work because the place made me sick, anyway.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the statement you made about people coming into work sick because they need to complete a project or to attend a meeting is a key reason that many people drag themselves into work sick -- particularly at the more senior levels or those with more responsibilities. It is unfortunate but comes from the fact that many of those people simply have too much work to do in a regular day/week and taking off puts them further behind. Another reason is that some people need to save sick days for those days their kids are sick and they are out of vacation/personal days.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or they are like my company, eliminating sick days altogether and you need to take a PTO (vacation) day if you are out sick. I think not...

As for meetings if s/o is really sick they can always call in.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Subway Sally said...

Tell me about it. Six sick days for an entire year???! I might need all six for one good round of the flu!

I wish you a r'fuah sheimah.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Scraps said...

I went into work sick last week; I only had two days left for the year, and also my boss was going to be out and he needed me to keep tabs on things in the office. I held out until the end of the week and then gave myself a longer long weekend so I could go to the doctor's office on Friday.

6:06 PM  

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