Message to sick employees: We want you to stay home!

More than half of employees admit they show up for work when they’re sick, according to the 2007 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey. It’s a trend that seems to be spreading like a virus, up from 39% just two years ago.

Why do they do it? Employees say they can’t stay home to recover because they have looming deadlines or too much work to do. Some say they’re so devoted to the organization, they can’t stay home. Others have run out of sick days or are saving their time off for future use. Still others believe the company discourages them from using their sick leave.

Here are a few simple ways to help your organization reverse the trend of presenteeism so employees can recuperate from the flu or other illnesses and return to work focused and productive:

  • Send sick employees home, and foster a culture that discourages workers from coming in sick.
  • Allow employees to telework from home when they’re not feeling well enough to come in.
  • Let employees carry unused sick days over from year to year.
  • Convert your sick leave/vacation leave to paid time off, to be used however the employee chooses.

7 healthy workplace strategies

Try these strategies to keep your work force—and your workplace—healthy this year:

  1. Offer free flu vaccines.
  2. Write employee guidelines that explain when someone should stay home and when it’s safe to return to work. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( is a great source for this information.
  3. Post information about hand washing and other ways to stop spreading germs.
  4. Make sure your attendance policies don’t punish sick people for staying home.
  5. Instruct managers to help sick employees feel comfortable missing work.
  6. Urge managers to set an example by calling in sick.
  7. Reward employees who pitch in to cover for ill colleagues.