If you feel guilty about taking a day off from work, you’re not alone. Sick day guilt is common amongst employees, as often calling in sick will expect other people to pick up the slack.
However, it’s important to know that taking a day off every now and then is absolutely acceptable, and for some people, it’s essential for their mental health.
Should you take a sick day?
It’s hard to decide when to leave the office for good and take a sick day. Some of us have urgent deadlines that will need to be met, and taking a sick day could set you back substantially.
The truth is that many people within the workforce tend to overextend themselves further than their health would permit. If you’re one of these people, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with taking a sick day – even if you don’t feel sick.
If you don’t, this can sometimes be more expensive in the long term than simply taking one day off. Though, most of us struggle with this as a moral dilemma, as it feels like you’re letting the team down in some way.
Just remember that having days off every now and then can mean that you come back stronger in the long term. Exhaustion from work is common in the workplace nowadays, and an exhausted employee cannot complete work related tasks to a high standard. It’s important to take a day off before you reach breaking point.
This is why stress management and mental health days have become more and more popular in recent years, and in some cases this has become company policy at larger companies too.
Both sick time and the personal days are similar but they’ll depend on the specific you’re working for, as different companies have varying employer-paid benefits. Sick days are there to cover employees suffering sickness or other illnesses, but that doesn’t mean you can only use sick days when you need surgery.
Reasons for Taking a Day Off of Work
Taking days off is important for your mental and physical health, and there’s a wide array of reasons why you may have to take one. It’s important for your well being that you identify these telltale signs that you may need a sick day.
- Health Reasons: Illness, whether it be physical or mental, is a common reason for taking a day off. Rest and recovery are crucial to maintain productivity and wellbeing in the long term.
- Personal Matters: This could include anything from attending a personal appointment, dealing with legal issues, or resolving household matters.
- You’re feeling sick or caring for a sick child – Every person can define their feelings of sick differently, but there’s no arguing against the need to take care of a sick child.
- Rest and Recharge: Sometimes, you may need a day off to avoid burnout. Constant work without a break can lead to decreased productivity and creativity.
- You’re grieving or caring for a family member who is – Think of grieving a loss as a physical illness, and when you are facing real life pain, it’s okay to take a personal day to get through to the other side.
- Professional Development: Attending a conference, workshop, or course related to your field can improve your skills and performance at work.
- Vacation: Taking a day off for a holiday or short break can help to alleviate stress and increase overall job satisfaction. Vacation days can sometimes be used, though you probably shouldn’t use a sick day for this.
- Moving House: If you’re relocating, you may need a day or more off to manage the logistics and get settled into your new place. Most people will take a day off when they move house.
- Volunteering: Some companies offer volunteer days as part of their benefits, allowing employees to give back to the community.
- Bad Weather or Unforeseen Circumstances: In some cases, adverse weather conditions or unexpected incidents may make it impossible or unsafe to travel to work.
Of course, this is all subjective, and your employer may have different opinions about valid reasons for days off. Things like running errands or you want to stay home and have a lazy morning are unlikely to be valid reasons for taking time away from work.
What to Do When Taking A Day Off
So, you’ve decided to take the day off – good for you! Generally the employer allows employees sick days, but you need to let them know you’re not coming in using the most effective and efficient methods. Here’s what you should consider if you’re going to take a day off from work.
Contact management through the proper channel
Sometimes managers choose to communicate with employees differently, and only you will know the best way to get in touch with them. This is typically done via email, and remember you may need to CC in any supervisors or managers that also need to know.
However, managers may respond faster to messages by phone. If you have their number and an existing relationship with your boss, you may choose to use this method of getting in touch with them instead.
Mention helpful information
When possible, you can give managers all the necessary useful information they need if you want to ensure that someone can cover your position. If you’re a vital employee, you may leave the company before a critical group meeting.
So, by giving them access to the information they need, it simplifies the transition for employees that will end up covering your position.
Explain availability to both management and coworkers
One way that you can make sick leave a little easier on your manager is to include how long you’ll be out of office for. If you’re just taking time off for a doctor’s appointment, you can let them know you’ll be back in tomorrow.
But if you think you’ll be away longer than this, it’s important to try and let them know exactly how long you’ll be off work for.
Is remote work possible?
In some instances, you may have no choice but to get some work done. So, you could see if it’s possible for you to work from home as opposed to going into the office.
Getting up early and going to work can be overwhelming, so this is a happy medium between taking a day off and heading into work. In person meetings can often be done online via Zoom or Skype, so it may be worth taking a self care day and getting your work done from home if you can.
Can you call in sick via text message?
One common question people have about calling in sick is whether you can do this via text message instead of phone.
It is possible to do this, but in honesty it comes down to the relationship between managers and employees. When communicating through text, your tone of voice cannot be analyzed, so it’s important that you already have an existing relationship with your manager.
If you want to keep things professional, it’s a better idea to let them know via email or phone call, as these are more commonly accepted.
Prepare for a return to work
Since your time off is temporary, at some point you must consider a plan of action to return. Taking one single day off shouldn’t be an issue, but if you’re taking more than this, you may need to think about how you’ll get back up to speed.
This includes alerting colleagues about upcoming work, and planning allows for a smooth transition when you’re coming back to the office. Taking time off should be a more important thing, and if you do it properly, your employers and colleagues will be fine while you’re away.
When you think about taking some time from work, an initial onset of fear may make you feel like you can’t. We all have a set amount of holiday each year, but on top of that, many employees feel guilty taking extra days off, as it may affect your management or co worker.
However, research shows that taking a vacation is good for mental health, so try not to worry about it too much. If you avoid taking time from work too much, stress may build up continuously over time. So, maybe the best idea is to take the day off, and then head back to the office tomorrow with more focus.