LIFE

How Taking Sickies Can Impact Your Career

If you care about your reputation, be mindful about the number of sickies you take.

01/11/2016 6:16 AM AEDT | Updated 01/11/2016 6:17 AM AEDT
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Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
Think carefully before you take a sickie on Melbourne Cup day!

Most of us have a few days a year when we cannot be bothered getting out of bed and dragging our tired old bodies to work. Put your hand up if you have never phoned your boss and said, "I'm sick," when the truth is you're sick of work.

While there are plenty of legitimate reasons for calling in sick, there are plenty of people who take regular sickies to help stretch out public holidays or turn days like Melbourne Cup into a two day event.

Leadership and people management specialist Karen Gately told The Huffington Post Australia taking a sickie doesn't make you a bad person but it is dishonest behaviour and you risk harming your reputation.

"It's about your reputation for being reliable. We're all going to have days when we can't be bothered. I have a policy at my business where I allow two 'I can't be bothered' days per year. I want my staff to call and say 'I can't be bothered,' because we all have those days. When our energy is drained and we just can't drag ourselves to work," Gately said.

"But I've only ever had one staff member take one 'I can't be bothered day.' They know the option is there so when they cant be bothered, they know they can give themselves a break, with my blessing. But if, too often, we make the decision not to go to work, and if it becomes regular, that's when people start to question whether we are reliable."

Paul Bradbury
If you really can't get yourself to work, instead of lying and pretending you're sick, tell your boss the truth...or drag yourself into work instead of risking your reputation.

Taking the occasional sickie might go undetected, but if you're regularly taking a particular day off - such as a Friday or Monday - chances are your boss will notice. What will give your game away is if, when you do turn up to work, you show a lack of engagement with your work.

"Just as transparent are unlikely excuses or patterns that most people cant help but feel suspicious of – such as Monday being the most common day you're away. If you really are ill on a Monday it's in everyone's best interest that you stay home, but if you're feeling just a little lethargic and disconnected, shake it off and get to work," Gately said.

"While it always matters that the people you work with trust and respect you, its especially important if you have aspirations to advance your career."

Gately also suggests people are mindful that whatever industry you work in, remember it is a small world and, if you have a reputation for being unreliable, people have long memories.

"When what people hear about you is that you slack off and let the team down, they're unlikely to be interested in working with you. Far better to have a reputation for being the person who will get the job done; the member of the team who can be relied upon to serve the organisation faithfully," Gately said.

"Make sure you behave in ways you can be proud of for many years to come."

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