Illness isn’t great at the best of times. It’s worse when it strikes you down for 2 of the 5 days you had managed to bag yourself within a lucrative business in a different country. Guernsey to be precise.
But it did get me thinking – where is the line between acceptable illness and unacceptable illness? When will an employer agree that you are genuinely too unwell to work? Do you have to turn up first and see how you go? Fortunately I was staying with one of the employees at this business and it was more than apparent to her just how ill I had become. If not, I would have found myself nervously treading the employability minefield – balancing impressing my employer with dedication and self-sacrifice against the overwhelming urge to display the effects of the stomach upon a £3.29 meal deal across my desk.
The short, sweet and simple answer is ‘it depends’. That doesn’t help very much. Here’s why.
Each employer is different. Each employer will have had their own unique experiences with individuals in these circumstances, and a lot is very much down to luck. One employer may see illness as an excuse to skive; another might be genuinely concerned for your health and advise you to stay at home until you are well. Some employers won’t care. Such is life.
But what can you do to mitigate the effects of ill health at work or on a placement? Here are my 3 top tips:
1. Ensure you are well rested and fed–
Being run down is going to mean you are particularly susceptible to bugs and viruses. By looking after yourself, you can do your very best to avoid coming down with these illnesses in the first place and avoid the problem all together!
2. Stock up on Immodium –
Maybe not just Immodium. Diarrhea, sickness, headaches, fevers… The effects can be awful to deal with (especially when you are alone in a new city) and may take a while to disappear on their own. Viruses in particular cannot be treated, but the symptoms can be tackled with many over the counter medicines. Build a travel medicine kit and ensure to have it with you, just in case.
3. Battle through –
‘Sniffles’ warn us of the impending doom at the hands of man flu/colds. They are not, however, a good excuse to skip work. If you know you can work, battle through. Negative impressions come through being unproductive and this is why illness becomes such a problem. If you can make it there and get through the first few hours, you will maximise your chances of avoiding a negative impression. If you don’t feel better by around midday, you can always head on back home with your employer’s permission. You will have shown just how dedicated you are, how you understand the importance of turning up and your employer will recognise you are genuinely ill and aren’t using this as an excuse to skip work and explore your new city/play Xbox.
It is very difficult to stay away from work and still leave a positive impression. Try your very best to avoid illness in the first place, make sure you’re prepared for the worst and battle through if you can. It’s tough, but it’s doable.