Won’t call in sick? New study looks into why this could be

By Kate Hassett

Won’t call in sick? New study looks into why this could be
There's a reason why you would rather go to work than call in sick and it's pretty questionable.

Feeling the pressure to pry yourself out of bed and cart yourself off to work when you’re feeling less than ideal is a common occurrence in the professional world. Despite spluttering through your morning coffee and telling yourself that everything is going to be ok, attempting to prove your worth by refusing to take a sick day can actually do more harm than good.

Are you the type of person who shudders at the thought of calling in sick, even when you are truly ill? Well, now there’s an actual name for those who feel they have to work through their illness to avoid letting the team down, or experiencing consequences of missing a day at work.

Presenteeism is the act of attending work while sick, instead of taking the time you need to recuperate and get better.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, researchers looked into the reasoning behind why we don’t call in sick – and how this can affect us in the long term.

The study was aimed at curtailing the growing trend of presenteeism and showing managers what they can do to improve the health, and productivity, of their employees.

The study looked at data from 61 prior studies that involved a pool of over 175,960 participants. Research was conducted using previous results from the European Working Conditions Survey, which collated data from 34 different countries. Their findings suggested that workers who felt supported by their colleagues and managers, felt they were able to stay home when sick, were satisfied with their jobs and had greater health overall.

Motivation was also a factor in why staff members feared the ‘sick day’ call. Whilst stemming from being stressed out, high job satisfaction and commitment to work, like job insecurity and limited pay sick leave, assisted in the reasons why we push ourselves beyond our limits.

“This study sheds light on the controversial act of presenteeism, uncovering both positive and negative underlying processes,” said lead author, Dr Miraglia. “It demonstrates that presenteeism is associated with work features and personal characteristics and not only dictated by medical conditions, in contrast to the main perspective of occupational medicine and epidemiology.

“Working while ill can compound the effects of the initial illness and result in negative job attitudes and withdrawal from work. However, the possible negative consequences of being absent can prompt employees to show up ill or to return to work when not totally recovered. Organisations may want to carefully review attendance policies for features which could decrease absence at the cost of increased presenteeism.”

Attending work whilst ill can not only have terrible affects on your own health, but is more likely to affect the health of your coworkers as well. So, even though it can be hard to pick up the phone, your health should always come first.




Print Recipe


Let us keep you up to date with our weekly MiNDFOOD e-newsletters which include the weekly menu plan, health and news updates or tempt your taste buds with the MiNDFOOD Daily Recipe. 

Member Login