Sick employees need to stay at home

Q: I can’t stand this time of year. Other people complain about the snow, their commute or the cold. Not me. I am can deal with all of that. But these people that come into the office with their noses running, a hacking cough and then touching phones, door knobs and shaking hands. They are making all of us sick. When I am sick, I stay home. I call into meetings if I can. I don’t sneeze and cough amidst co-workers. How are we supposed to address this in the workforce?

A: I get it. I so get it. I have been on the same tirade recently. These folks that take out the tissues, honk their noses and then proclaim that everyone is sick in their house but brag how they made it into work. I feel like standing up and saying, “Go home. We don’t want you in this condition.”

Sick people need to stay home. With all of the technologies available to us, we want the brains of our employees, but not their germs.

I recently had a client email all employees a reminder not to come into the office if they have certain symptoms (similar to the list you see posted at hospitals). One person can spur an epidemic. And many of us, because of snow storm after snow storm, are more housebound that usual. It is hard to get outside and get some fresh air.

One policy that drives me wild, which some companies still have, is a perfect attendance award. Instead, I would like to abolish these awards. These drive employees to report to work even when they are sick and should remain at home.

I also think having hand sanitizer around is a smart idea. A decade ago, hand sanitizer was uncommon. Today I would make sure I have a giant bottle on my desk. I also like to wipe down telephones and door knobs frequently.

Thirty-two days until spring!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.