Commentary: Employees must resist the pressure to go to work when unwell

Commentary: Employees must resist the pressure to go to work when unwell


During the new wave of cases, some companies took additional precautions such as encouraging employees to work from home. But still, there are some employees who feel like they must go to work even when sick. 

What’s causing this pressure to work when unwell? Are such employees afraid of losing their jobs or their clients? Is it a sign of a toxic workplace culture that values attendance over health and well-being? 

There are multiple reasons. Some workplaces have a culture of presenteeism, where employees are expected to work like robots, never take a break, and put work before everything else. Employees who follow this may get a pat on the back, a gold star, or a cookie, while those who don’t may get a stern scolding, a dirty look, or a pink slip.

High workload and deadlines are another reason. Some workplaces have so much work that employees can’t afford to take a sick day. For example, some employees may have to juggle multiple projects, tasks, or clients and may feel like they’re on a treadmill that never stops. They may also feel like they’re playing a game of Tetris that keeps getting faster and harder.

Sometimes, the pressure comes from within. Some employees feel pressure from themselves to go to work when they’re sick. Like Michael Jordan, who played basketball with the flu and won the game, some may have a strong work ethic or sense of duty that makes them want to do their best and impress others. Or maybe they just really love their job and can’t stand to miss a day.