Sick Days

photo from Flickr stream of RLHyde (http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/)

photo from Flickr stream of RLHyde (http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/)

I have a bone to pick when it comes to sick days. A sick day shouldn’t require you to be sneezing, coughing, chugging green tea and sipping soup. Taking a sick day should not make you feel like a lesser employee. It shouldn’t make you feel guilt for your body telling you “hey, you need a break!” If anything, you should feel guilty for driving your body to the point where it can no longer fight off disease and forces you to stop.

In fact, maybe the language of calling it a “sick” day should be expelled from our lexicon. Instead, let’s re-frame it and call it a “wellness” day because that’s what they really should be.

Showing up to work while you feel under the weather, exhausted, or just plain out of it costs employers an estimated $160 BILLION a year. That’s twice the amount it costs employers when you call out!

Wellness days are more than likely part of your compensation package (especially if you are a salaried employee) and you should feel no guilt in using them. Taking a day for your wellness be it physical, mental, spiritual, is good for you and for your office. Physical = you are worn down, physically sore and exhausted. Mental = you have what a friend and I like to call “the dumb” which means your brain has simply reached its limit due to stresses and mental gymnastics of managing work life, family life, etc.  Spiritual = you feel lost, disconnected, disenchanted and need a self-centering, reflective day to get back your sense of purpose and drive. (By the way, we always speak about student mental health as a hot button issue but what about professional mental health?)

Of course, you will need those days for when you are actually ill with a bug or virus so don’t abuse this suggestion. What I am saying is take a day here or there just to refresh and relax, maybe once every other month or so. Doing that may actually decrease the amount of times you are curled up on the couch with a cold and tissues, soup and Netflix to keep you company which means you are more awake, aware, and alert for your job.

Ditch the sick day, embrace the wellness day. I’m willing to be you’ll be a better employee and contributor to your organization as a result.

(I completely understand the situation that those with hourly positions are in. A sick day means less hours, which means less of a paycheck, which could result in more stress. I’m a big advocate for paid sick leave, especially for hourly employees, because we cannot and should not expect ourselves or others to be able to work nonstop without an reprieve aside from the weekends (if you even have weekends off!). Sick days are expensive but having someone in the office who is only 50% present due to feeling under the weather isn’t good for your office and isn’t good for said employee. A happier, healthier workforce is better than a burned out, stressed workforce. What kind of workforce are you leading?) 

Small Groups in Classrooms & Conferences

This is a special shout out to Amma and Sue because the I’s really do have it.

I recently returned for my second and final semester in the CUNY School of Professional Studies where I am finishing a Graduate Certificate in Adult Learning with focuses on Program Design and Facilitation.It has been a very eye opening experience that leaves me to believe that even without a graduate degree in higher education specifically, much of this material and research isn’t discussed in college-aged adult discussions. This coming of course from the one course I took junior year that was on student development theory (Hi Chickering!).

In any case, in my capstone course that is requiring us to do 12.5 hours of in class facilitation (love it!) we had an interesting discussion about how educators work a room and engage a crowd. The professor posed a question that immediately led me to think of Sue and Amma, as well as my other self-proclaimed introverted friends.

The professor said, “Okay. How many have been in a classroom or a conference where the presenter suddenly says, “Now turn to your left or your right and discuss this with the person next to you” ?

Side bar: I hate when presenters do this. It makes me feel as though the presenters couldn’t fill the allotted time slot so let’s fill some time with the audience talking amongst themselves. I get it. I know there is value in it. If I come to your session, I want to here from you first. I’ll follow up with the person sitting next to me afterwards!

We all groaned and sighed as a response to her question. She then gave me something that I will forever take on to any conference or presentation I give should I ever see the need for small group discussions.

“What if instead we said, “Okay, now turn to the person to your left or right and discuss this with them or if you prefer to, take a few moments to your self and write out what you think about this,” what would happen then? 

Mind blown. Why hadn’t someone thought of that before? I’ve never heard of such a concept. I’ve heard of free writes sure but never offered as an alternative to forced group discussions.

I’m an extrovert 80% of the time but I think when I’m prompted to speak to my neighbor in a session, I’m going to opt for the pen and paper and spar with my thoughts.

The self-awareness, capability, and talent to make powerful use of time to reflect whether it is in writing, doodles, or drawings on the paper is something that we all could use from time to time. And that, my friends, is what the I’s have.

Isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery?

Suedle by SueCaulfield.com

Suedle by SueCaulfield.com

There is no hiding the animosity, awkwardness, sibling rivalry like behavior between members of two of the largest professional associations in higher education. If anything, the latest convention plans only solidified each other’s members into some form of, “We thought of it first!” “Yeah, but we will do it better!” type scenario.

Knock it off.

This type of bickering and comparing is absurd. You know what isn’t absurd? The fact that both organizations are now taking risks and changing their practices (FINALLY) to reflect what today’s higher education professionals need as professional development.

I don’t care who came out with an idea first or what has a better website for their conference/convention. Some siblings are good at things that the others aren’t and vice versa. What matters…what really matters is as we get to watch the two biggest associations battle it out trying to out do each other or keep up with each other, we are going to benefit.

You know what would be even better than trying to make the next conference or convention the coolest, most innovative, most adaptable, most unconference-like? Racing to lower the prices. Too many professionals are shackled in their professional development opportunities because their professional development funding depends on their presenting at the conference. That’s the reality. You know what? The reality sucks. How are professionals, who are trying to become better professionals by networking and meeting people at these national meetings, suppose to get any better without the luxury of these opportunities?

I applaud the two associations for their efforts and this little competitive spirit they have going on or at least the members seem to. Keep in mind however; I’m clapping in my seat. Neither gets a standing ovation.

You want me to stand and clap your efforts?

Show me an association that is going to lower their prices.

Show me an association that is going to find a way to offer online-passes at a discounted rate to live-stream select presentations (or why not any presentation?).

Show me an association that is going to meet the members where they are at developmentally, financially, regionally.

Show me an association that isn’t going to over think everything.

Show me an association that is truly member-driven.

In the meantime, I’ll keep getting involved in each association as much as I can so that my words go ahead to push my actions and hopefully changes can happen.

Just don’t tell me change can’t happen because a small-dedicated group of people is the only thing that ever created change in this world and I know each association has that group of people within it.

If changes don’t happen because everyone gets caught up in the bickering and the competition and the comparisons, there is a small group of people who are going to create an alternative that will lead to standing ovations.

We are committed.

We are curious.

We are creative.

We are…you.