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09-02-2018

Time to stay home

Everyone knows about absenteeism, but how about ‘presenteeism’? This is the name for the practice of going to work despite injury illness, anxiety, etc, which often results in reduced productivity, or of working long hours at a job without the real need to do so.

If you are self-employed, then presenteeism can be a way of life. I am guilty as charged. I am writing this on Saturday night, when I could be watching “The Voice”, but I’m typing this on my laptop instead.

So, what entices workers to get dressed and go to the office when they’re ill? Chances are, they don’t want to be thought of as wimps or lacking in commitment. In our competitive world good jobs are as rare as hen’s teeth, and stress and job insecurity are among the reasons why people drag themselves into work when they’d be better off staying in bed and recovering properly.

Even if you work for yourself, and don’t have a manager or boss to impress, and theoretically you can reject work and allow your body and mind to rest and heal, I bet that’s not what you do. I confess to in hospital until just minutes before having surgery, struggling to type with a needle in my arm. This wasn’t anything to do with presenteeism really. I just find that work is the best way to distract myself from scary situations and the general worries of daily life. Translating a few pages distracted me from the idea of the operation, but in hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have done it.

Scientific studies show that three times more productivity is lost to presenteeism than to taking sick days, so you you’ll be doing your boss a favour if you keep your germs at home. After all, the world won’t stop turning if you miss a couple of days!

To keep things going smoothly at work, it is a good idea to find out how your boss prefers you to tell him/her that you need a sick day before it happens. While some managers are happy to receive an email or text, while others would rather you telephoned them to explain. A short conversation gives your supervisor the opportunity to ask you questions about what needs to be done in your absence and standing up and taking responsibility like this will leave a far better impression than disappearing.

In the end, it’s up to managers to include employee health and well-being among the company’s priorities and develop a culture where presenteeism is neither encouraged nor admired. And as for you, fellow translators, if you’re not well, stay in bed. Your project managers will understand!

Juliet Allaway

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