Early on at my company, LogoMix, we had a small workspace. We didn't have cubicles. We worked long hours in very tight quarters. I didn't have an office. (I still don't have an office, but not because we don't have the room).
We had a lot to do and limited resources, but we did have great people. When you're a small company, growing -- or just surviving -- requires everyone on the team to work hard.
Then one day an employee came to work feeling sick. Not just a little bit sick -- really sick. He was dedicated and hardworking, and he wanted to push through. He didn't want to let an illness stop him. Or us.
But another employee caught what he had. And then another. Within three days, our entire eight-person team was at home sick in bed. No one was working.
Not them. Not me. No one. Personally, I was out sick for a week.
And that means nothing got done.
Startup success requires passion, dedication, perseverance, effort -- all the things that make both businesses and individuals successful. That's why most successful entrepreneurs hire passionate people, try to instill a sense of purpose and mission in their employees, and work hard to create and manage the right culture.
But that passion, that mission, and that culture can't make sick employees feel guilty for staying home and getting better. Guilt, especially when paired with sickness, is a productivity killer.
Not just for the under the weather employee -- but possibly for other employees, too.
I've learned my lesson. If I'm sick, I don't come to work. I model the behavior I want our employees to embrace. And if an employee looks sick, I encourage them to go home. I ask them to go home.
Shoot, I make them go home. It's better for them. It's better for the company.
Employees don't care about a leader until they first know the leader cares about them. Employees don't care about a company or its mission until they first know the company cares about them. (Which means, in effect, that they know you care about them.)
When your employees truly know that you care about them, not just as workers but as people, then they'll care about your company's goals and mission. They'll do almost anything for you.
Including staying home, or going home, when they're sick.
Create an environment where staying home sick and getting better is the cultural norm. Do it because it will help you avoid having multiple people out sick.
But more importantly, do it because it's the right thing to do.