I don’t know about you guys but I’ve never known a person who hasn’t come to work sick. Not that I condone it or think you should. The last thing you need is a colleague spreading germs by hacking up a lung in your face.
But for one reason or another, we’ve all done it at some point in our careers—cold, fever, butt flu, and all. Accountants and tax professionals especially. You guys do it all the time during busy season when you should be at home in bed drinking Canada Dry ginger ale and binge-watching Mindhunter.
From a thread on r/accounting in February about being sick during busy season:
[OP] All I’ve done this week is wake up, drive to work, drive home, and sleep. Pounding cold medicine and water and hitting the bathroom every 45 mins of 12 hour days is a rough existence.
[Redditor 1] A manager once told me, “as long as you’re breathing, you can use excel”. You really should be excelling from home though.
[Redditor 2] I worked the better part of busy season several years ago with mono. Felt pressured to take no time off. Public is for the birds.
[Redditor 3] I feel you. The catering they got us Monday night has given me the runs the past 3 days. Or maybe its stress related diarrhea? is that a thing? Either way, feeling forced to be here so I can get my hours in while having explosive diarrhea has just made my living nightmare even more fun.
What a crappy existence, pun intended.
When a press release from Accountemps hit my inbox last week, saying that a survey revealed 90% of professionals admitted they go to work sick at least sometimes, the first thing I thought of was, “I call BS on the other 10%.” (Actually, it’s 11%, according to Accountemps, because responses don’t equal 100% due to rounding.)
Now, I haven’t worked in an office with other people for several years, so last night I asked my wife, who does, if she believed that there are 10% or 11% of people out there who’ve never gone to work sick. She said, “No, they’re full of shit.”
So it’s not surprising that 57% of the 2,800 people polled by Accountemps said they come to work sick sometimes, while 33% admitted they come to the office sick all the time.
The press release continues:
More than half of those who report to the office with a cold or the flu (54%) said they do so because they have too much work on their plate; another 40% don’t want to use sick time.
More employees ages 25 to 40 (39%) reported always coming to work unwell than respondents ages 18 to 24, 55 and older (27% each) and ages 41 to 54 (26%).
But a growing number of employers are setting policies to discourage people from showing up sick to work and grossing out or infecting colleagues. And many give their employees the option of working from home when sick.
So maybe we will start to see the percentage of people who at least sometimes come to work sick decrease in a year or two when Accountemps does this survey again.
Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of Accountemps, said:
“Whether it’s due to large workloads, pressure from the boss or because they can’t afford to take time off, it’s all too common for employees to come to the office feeling sick when they really should be resting. Staying home when you’ve got a cold or the flu is the best way to avoid spreading germs to others and fight the illness faster.”
Steinitz added, “Bosses should set an example by taking time off when they’re under the weather, encouraging employees to do the same and offering those with minor ailments the ability to work from home.”
This guy in another r/accounting thread gets it:
[OP] Still new to this manager thing but I’ve just had to deal with an A1 who was upset that she was sick and felt like she is letting the team down. It’s awful that kids coming into this job feel that way and having to continuously assure them it’s ok to be sick, how mad is it to feel guilty for being unwell.
Anyways, please just let us know and focus on resting up. Especially in the coming months. If you have a manager who is giving you shit for it speak to your mentor/counselling manager/HR.
Hopefully there are other managers and/or partners in public accounting who are like him.