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  1. You’re assuming that managers have consciences and work for companies that don’t have draconian HR policies left over from the eighteenth century -or the dreaded “unwritten rules” that aren’t official policies, but just how things are done. At one employer I am familiar with, there are no such things as excused absences. Any unplanned absence, regardless of reason, is an “occurrence” and basically a strike against the employee. Too many occurrences, forget that promotion. A few more, go to the top of the lay-off list. A few more than that, disciplinary action for “excessive absenteeism.” Do employees at that company come to work sick? You bet. It’s career suicide not to. Remember, a large percentage of Americans avoid taking their earned vacation time for fear of being labeled a “slacker.” Then there is the situation many Americans face – no paid sick leave. Yeah, they can call in sick, but if they do, they’ll be short a day’s pay at the end of the week. They’re probably barely making ends meet, so if they stay home sick, the kids don’t eat. There is a lot more to this situation than tech folks who refuse to miss work because they think they are irreplaceable. And there is a lot more to be addressed than making a few front line supervisors “aware”.

    • All good and valid examples, but…….. As you’ve read this article, and must care about the subject matter, what are you doing to change the “culture of absenteeism” at your company? The HR Manager / Director / VP must know the repercussions of people coming to work sick! Selling it to Management should be a no-brainer, but in most cases, no one has the “morale courage” to do so, so the problem continues to exist. If a company can’t afford to have any employee off for a few days, they’re failing in more ways than one.

      • In my experience, it’s not just a single company, but rather entire industries that follow this modus operandi. The mantra of the 90s was “lean and mean” which was simply a metaphor for cut staffing to the bone. In those situations, having someone off for a few days *is* a big deal. Especially if someone from management has to step into a front line role in order to cover the staffing shortage. They tend not to like that very much. Lean and mean also tends to go hand in hand with attitudes like “if an employee disappoints you, punish them.” This is still the norm for most operations on the low end of the pay scale- retail, food service, hospitality, unskilled labor, etc. It’s very hard for one person to have much impact on those cultures that are married to a “tight labor scheduling” model. Managers are told they must do more with less, or the company will replace them with someone who will. Front-line employees are viewed as literal “human resources” to be used up and tossed aside. That’s what the American workplace looks like for people who make less than six figures. They don’t have time to take a moral stand. They’re trying to survive.

        • Still boils down to the principle of staying at a job that treats you like a sub-human. The problem with the mentality you mention is that it “begets” others that lean to treat their people the same way when they achieve a management position. Not many people have the courage or vision to break free from the corporate jungle to do what they love and be their own boss, so they settle for being abused and underappreciated for years and years. Not the way to live a life, but you get what you settle for!

          • Not everyone has the financial ability to quit their job and start their own business. But lets not let that stop us from blaming the victims.

          • This has been a great conversation to follow. Thanks for offering up your interesting perspectives and opinions here. Let’s hear from others as well!

  2. Thanks for all the great interaction on this article! There’s no doubt that different companies have different policies, but what’s important is that employers and managers start realizing it can be better in the long run to encourage workers to stay home when they’re sick. And those in leadership positions need to set the example from the top. Employees should keep in mind that there’s nothing more important than their own health. There should be a plan in place for covering when someone can’t come to work, whether it’s team members picking up the slack or hiring temporary workers. If an employee really must complete assignments or feels well enough to do so, working remotely is a good option, if a position allows for it. Another thing companies must recognize is that in today’s market, professionals frequently have other options if they’re not being treated with respect and dignity.


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