- Crushing It -
by fergus mellon
So I think you should take every single vacation day (see Should I Take Vacation?), so that means I think you should also take sick days, right?
Unfortunately no. I may be in the minority here but to me an Early Stage Professional (and really anyone) should only rarely, if ever, take a sick day. The exception is obviously if you have a serious illness. Serious illnesses aside, make it to the office. Unless you are seriously ill, taking sick days will make you look weak and it is rare to ever be ill enough not to show up. Show up, do the work, leave a bit early if you feel truly rough and work through the minor ailments as best you can. I have shown up at the office with a heavy cold and temperature on my birthday (sucks, right?) and got through it. I may have missed a work Happy Hour when I was unwell, but it is rare to miss a full day of work because of this. I know my team and managers saw that I was unwell but getting through the day so they cut me some slack.
It is far better to be thought of as someone who never takes a sick day than the delicate flower who has to always be at a 100% to come into the office. In the 15 years or so that I have worked I have taken one sick day when I did not show up to work and did nothing and then just three others where I did not make it into the office, but nevertheless worked from home. In retrospect every one of those days were days when I could have and should have made it into the office. Oh and on the day I took out of work I ended up hanging out with a friend in pub, avoiding the sun so I would not look like I had taken the day off to sun bathe!!!
Think of minor illnesses as you did that college hangover!
I always felt that College was great training for dealing with sick days. During my time as an undergraduate I made the mistake, probably twice a week, of seriously over drinking and having a ton of fun at the various student events that were available to me. The result, apart from some great times and occasional regret at my actions was that I would feel as if I had died the next day. I felt truly ill from my major hangovers.
Perhaps hangovers are the worst I have ever felt (I am lucky at still being in decent health) and since I knew I had done the damage to myself I struggled through my next day of college. Sure I would not feel 100% but I got through it and turned up to class and worked if not at 100%, closer to 66%. Take this lesson from your college days and in the same way you struggled through a hangover day, struggle through a sick day!
Sick days are a waste of yours and the company's time and if taken regularly will be a flag to your manager. Use sparingly!
Next section: Should I Work Outside Office Hours?
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