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Calling in Sick

“Sorry I can’t come in today, I am sick.”
Three months ago this would have been my reality to message to my boss and staff.  This morning though, there was no one I needed to tell.  By the time I woke up, my husband clearly knew I was ill after going through a box of tissues throughout the night.  All there was left was me, to accept I had again gotten ‘the bug’ and rest.  Easier said than done for me.
Being sick and not needing to call in formally got me thinking.  Sick days, wellness and even faking illnesses.
I plead the fifth on my past behavior.  I will say though that many days my schedule was so busy, I would need to come in just to keep up.  On the other side of that, there were busy times where there was nothing in me left.  I wasn’t sick, but was mentally exhausted.  I just about kicked myself when leaving my last position, realizing how many sicks days I would be loosing.  It made me wonder, should of I used them more?!?
Business Insider article on A Surprising Statistic About Workers Who Call In Sick reported of 5,250 full-time professionals, 85% of them were telling truth when calling in sick.  Further, women are more honest then men, where one out of five men will lie when calling in sick.
Have you called in sick lately?  Were you medically Ill?  Emotionally worn?  Catching up on errands?  Going on a vacation?
HR.Blr.com, a site for HR professionals, highlighted a recent study from careerbuilder.com that 32% of surveyed workers had called in sick when they were perfectly healthy.  Of those, 10% had done so three or more times in the last year.  

While some employers said they typically don’t question excuses given, others were more skeptical. Twenty-seven percent of hiring managers reported they have fired a worker for calling in sick without a legitimate reason.
The most popular motivator for missing work was the need to relax, according to nearly half (48 percent) of workers. Twenty-four percent of workers pointed to the desire to catch up on sleep while 20 percent cited personal errands. Other top reasons included doctor’s appointments (17 percent), plans with family and friends (16 percent), and housework (16 percent).
One-in-four workers said they consider their sick days to be equivalent to vacation days and treat them as such.

Calling in sick for some may come down to an ethical dilemma.  Others may have no problem in using a benefit of fulltime employment.  For those on either side of the argument, one can get a laugh from the wiki.com five steps to call in sick when you just need a day off.  I guess this behavior is down to a science.  The article is very entertaining, but for the cliff notes on the steps are below:

  1. Remember, first and foremost, you are about to lie
  2. Prepare an alibi
  3. Call your boss or supervisor early the next morning
  4. Consider another method of contact (optional)
  5. Follow up on your sickness when you return to work.


My last couple weeks of work I really was sick.  More sick with the flu than I had ever been as an adult.  I made the image below a reality.  Thankfully today I am not (yet) as sick as I was then.  None the less, I still felt the need to give notice formally.
Stay healthy out there!

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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