Can employees be too dedicated? And can one person’s insistence on battling through a period of sickness backfire on them and those around them?

The CIPD are answering “yes” to both questions. Their survey of 1,000 UK organisations, published today, reveals that 86% of employers have seen staff come to work when clearly unwell, with high numbers also willing to work while on holiday. Not surprisingly a large majority of employers are happy to accept this behaviour, but should they be? Struggling in to work when ill is hardly a recipe for a swift return to full health, and while we may tell ourselves we’re performing at optimum level, general tiredness and discomfort are usually enough to knock people off their stride. Throw in specific symptoms – a cough, a sneeze and a splutter every five minutes, or a wince-inducing ache in muscles or joints – and you have a dedicated professional working at nowhere near full capacity, with the prospect of them being below par for an extended period. Those of us who end up catching the germs our gallant colleagues bring in won’t thank them either, and where workplaces host sickness “relays” with bugs being passed from one member of staff to another for weeks on end, overall performance can suffer disastrously.

Why do we insist on dragging ourselves to work when it’s in everyone’s best interests for us to take a sick day? And why do employers continue to let it happen?

When an organisation doesn’t have procedures in place to measure productivity, it’s all too easy to fall back on things that can’t be measured. We all admire loyalty, but you can be loyal without making yourself and others ill.

Rather than simply applauding people for making it into work, why not have a HR system that allows you to track what they actually do while they’re there? Jane’s self-service and authorised user software enables managers to step back from day to day administration of a HR record and see what activities their people are starting and completing. The Jane personnel module delivers tailored management reporting and statistical analysis that measures the progress of your people and the benefits to your business. Jane’s Occupational Sickness module enables you to monitor short-term absences and absence patterns, pursue action points while an employee is still absent, activate return-to-work procedures and communicate the path you expect your people to follow.

Looking at things from the employee’s perspective, Jane puts them in control of their training and development and gives them measurable goals to work towards. They’ll know objectively when they’re succeeding and they’ll know when they’re valued. That knowledge is the best weapon against the doubt and insecurity that might push them to get out of a sick bed when they know it makes more sense to stay in it.

Jane gives you good quality information to work with, so you don’t have to judge your people solely on whether or not they turn up and sit at a desk and they don’t have to judge themselves that narrowly either. When they’re fit for work they’ll be motivated to come in, perform and contribute. And when they’re not, they’ll be objective enough to stay home, lie down and get better.

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