Yikes, I just looked in our human resources portal and I’ve accrued hundreds of hours of sick leave. However, I don’t recall being immune to all illnesses—in fact, I can think of many colds and flus I’ve worked through over the last decade. I’m sure many of us can relate. But the question remains—why don’t we ever take the sick leave that the company offers and that we’re legally entitled too?
Many professionals today either work in a culture that frowns on utilizing personal time, even if it’s an agreed upon terms in the employer/employee relationship. In most cases, there’s been a consolidation of resources and headcount due to the last downturn in the economy. Simultaneously, the economy demands that we all keep up with the advancements in technology on the fly. This means that we’re constantly under pressure to take on more responsibility while also trying to find time to train on new practices and technology, perhaps get a degree, and still balance family and personal time.
The global economy requires multi-skilled employees and just when you thought you reached your breaking point—it’s only going to bend you even more. Think about it: not too long ago in the average office you’d have a personal human resource employee that you were assigned to along with an office manager to handle day-to-day logistics. Today, you’re responsible for self-serving nearly every aspect of most human resource procedures on the Intranet; often getting your own career training to qualify and advance; plus reaching all of your expected job goals. Never mind, that your responsibilities represent what would be two to three other full-time equivalents (FTEs) in the not so distant past. And due to the last round of economic woes, you’re probably not getting compensated more for that extra effort. This is the playing field and we all take on the challenge, accept it and move forward. But as your banked personal leave or sick time approaches quadruple digits—stop, take a deep breath, and ask one question. When do your best ideas come to life—when you’re overworked and stressed or when you’re fresh and invigorated? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question although I can think of a lot of times when my best ideas came to under pressure. But if that’s always your modus operandi, it can build up and weigh down on you to the point of burn out. And that doesn’t do you or your manager any good.
So, take a moment to check your human resource handbook and if you’re feeling like you’re heading over a cliff or you need to spend time with a sick child—think twice about passing up on taking a personal or sick leave day. Just one day may do you a world of good. Plus, you’ve earned it.