Don't Feel Guilty About Taking a Sick Day!

Don't Feel Guilty About Taking a Sick Day!

by Melanie Joy Douglas,

Surveys reveals that while over half of Canadian workers feel guilty calling in sick and would rather bring their illness into work, a strong majority of Canadian bosses would prefer they didn’t.

Results from the poll, conducted by Decima Research, showed that 76% of Canadian bosses say ‘stay home if you’re not feeling well.’ Interestingly, gender seems to play a role as 80% of male managers would prefer employees to stay home when ill, while a lesser 65% of female bosses feel the same.

The findings reflect the guilt workers associate with taking unscheduled time off work:

  • 46% of workers took no sick days in the past 12 months.

  • 35% of employees admitted to always or sometimes feeling guilty when calling in sick.

  • 62% of employees said they would have to feel severely ill before they would miss a day of work.

  • 46% of women admitted to always or sometimes feeling guilty when they call in sick compared to just 25% of men.

But, what constitutes calling in sick? 78% of employers see colds, flu or being sick and contagious as justifiable reasons for calling in sick.

"At this time of year, I see many professionals in my practice who are suffering from a cold or flu but feel they must soldier through their work days," says family physician Dr. Nayana Suchak. "What is not realized is one day at home - where you can rest and avoid contaminating others - is key to breaking the seasonal sickness cycle."

While germ concern and virus spreadability is on employers’ minds, so too is the bottom line:

  • 86% of Canadian bosses agree their employees are more productive when they take a sick day to recover from illness.

  • In Ontario, 94% of managers in Ontario agree that employees are more productive when they took a sick day. Managers in Manitoba/Saskatchewan came a close second at 89% with Quebec employers filling the last slot at 72%.

"The war-like mentality which dominated the business world a few decades ago is passé," says Peter Rodriguez, Senior Brand Manager of Benylin at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which was recently named one of Canada's healthiest workplaces by the Canadian Healthy Workplace Council.

"Managers and employees now realize that in order to achieve peak performance they need to be healthy, refreshed and engaged, otherwise efficiency and productivity suffer," adds Rodriguez. "This study reinforces that something as simple as giving yourself permission to take a sick day when you are ill has become a perfectly acceptable - and preferred - practice."

Two independent surveys of Canadian employers and employees were commissioned by the makers of Benylin to enhance their knowledge of Canadians' sick day habits. The surveys were conducted by Decima Research in autumn 2006. These national samples of 1,000 Canadian adults 18 years or older (per survey) is accurate within +/- 3.1 percentage points.