Icon info
1 in 3 people come to work sick. What message are…
Back to overview
Talent & labor organization

1 in 3 people come to work sick. What message are you giving your employees?

Don’t want your employees to come to work sick? Then check your organization’s absenteeism culture: what (implicit) message are you giving your employees about being sick and working?
by Kathleen Vangronsvelt, PhD, Eva Geluk | January 25, 2023
Share item

Do you have a health-conscious culture ?

In a health-focused culture, sick employees don't come to work. How can you convey that message to your employees as an employer?

  • Sending home people who come to work when clearly they are sick
  • Rescheduling appointments of sick employees
  • Staying home yourself when sick (role model)
  • Making sure coworkers can easily take over each other’s work
  • Showing statistics that demonstrate the negative effects of coming to work sick

Do you have a presence culture?

In a present-culture, employees still come to work when they are sick. The following are some ways to signal a present-culture:

  • Rewarding employees for not taking sick leave
  • Expecting people to follow up on their mails when they are sick
  • Making it really hard to call in sick (e.g., by having to notify 4 departments, or by having to cancel all your appointments yourself)
  • Complimenting an employee who is sick or not yet cured and shows up at work anyway (“Wow, great that you’re here, even though you’re still sick”)
  • Complimenting employees who are rarely sick on their resilience/strong constitution (“Covid or no covid, nothing can harm you!”)
  • Making negative comments on someone who is sick (“Is he sick yet again?”)

Do you have an individual choice culture?

In an individual choice culture, you choose whether or not to come to work when you are sick. But how do you signal this?

  • The absence of the signals mentioned above
  • Reinforcing each individual decision: “It’s up to you to decide.”

Antwerp Management School, Bpost, Mensura en B-Tonic (a subsidiary of Baloise) joined forces to develop solutions for successful reintegration and prevention. By putting theory into practice and measuring the impact, we are building an arsenal of interventions that actually work. For everyone.

Share article

About the authors

Related content


How Proximus makes the company and society more resilient with #inspire2022.

This is episode 4 of the series 'Trends Gamechangers'.

The Trends Impact Podcast takes you on an exciting journey through the environmental and societal achievements of companies making a positive impact on our planet. Over nine episodes, winners and nominees of the Trends Impact Awards 2022 share their stories. The host is Britt Buseyne, a Trends columnist and founder of the podcast Sustainababbels. In each episode, an expert from Antwerp Management School provides analysis and background.

In this episode, Britt Buseyne engages in a conversation with Catherine Bals from Proximus and Kathleen Vangronsvelt from Antwerp Management School. In 2020, Proximus launched its corporate strategy #inspire2022. The telecommunications leader outlined several priorities in order to enhance the resilience of both the company and the surrounding society. Proximus demonstrated its capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring a stable network and affordable connectivity when our (work)world was forced to digitize. The company aims to continue this mission in the future, with a strong emphasis on both digitalization and sustainability.

The Trends Impact Podcast is an initiative by Trends and Antwerp Management School. The Trends Impact Awards are organized by Trends and PWC, in collaboration with Antwerp Management School.

This podcast is in Dutch.
by Kathleen Vangronsvelt, PhD, Catherine Bals | January 25, 2023
Boogkeers campus AMS management school

AMS insights