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Sometimes, Going to Work Just Doesn't Pay

Some people like to "tough it out" and come to work every day, regardless of how under the weather they feel; however, this might not be the best idea: Employees who work while sick are often less productive than healthy employees.

Research is showing that in some instances, this slowdown in production - known as "presenteeism" - may cost a company more than if an employee stays home for the day.

Researchers tried to estimate the losses in productivity caused by common health conditions such as allergies and headaches, and compared that estimate with other costs associated with the condition. The estimates were based on about 375,000 employees, including claims for medical care and disability over a three-year period.

The analysis showed that for many conditions, the costs of presenteeism were greater than other health care costs, such as absenteeism or health benefits. When other costs were added to losses from presenteeism, absenteeism, health benefits and disability benefits, the most expensive condition for employers was high blood pressure ($392 per employee per year), followed by heart disease ($368), mental health problems ($348), arthritis ($327) and allergies ($271).

If you're an employer, consider examining your company's sick-time policy and adjust it if necessary so employees don't feel burdened to come to work when they are sick. As an employee, take the day off the next time you are sick. Toughing it out will likely prolong your illness, and you'll be less productive and end up costing your company money in the long run.


Goetzel RD, Long SR, Ozminkowski RJ, et al. Health, absence, disability, and presenteeism cost estimates of certain physical and mental health conditions affecting U.S. employers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine April 2004;46(4):398-412.

To learn more about how to stay healthy - on the job and off - talk to your chiropractor and visit