Smoking: A Career Killer?

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita:

My co-workers and I were having a discussion over lunch about whether or not smoking can have an effect on your career potential. As a non-smoker, I think smoking not only affects your health but also how people perceive you as an employee. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Thanks!

SmokingHi, Concerned Co-workers:

In my opinion, smoking can definitely have a negative effect on your career. According to a New York Times article, one in every five Americans smoke on a regular basis and, on average, employees who smoke cost employers $3,391 more a year for health care and lost productivity. If your company has 500 employees, this alone can cost almost $1.7 million a year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cigarette smoking costs companies more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures).

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at the effects of smoking on your career or business.

  • The smell of cigarette smoke lingers on your clothing. People who do not smoke may be annoyed, repulsed, or dismissive of those who come in to the office smelling of stogies.
  • Smoking breaks can take a huge chunk of time out of the day. On average, it takes 3-5 minutes to smoke a cigarette. If you look at my post Time Theft: Is It Really a Crime? you can see how much in lost profits just two smoke breaks a day can amount to over the course of the year.
  • Smoking comes with its own set of negative connotations. Hiring employers or managers may view this habit as a red flag and think that the person is negligent or lazy.
  • Studies estimate that smokers are two to three times more often absent from work.
  • Smoking2Smoking may be deal breakers in a company’s hiring policy. More companies are adopting policies that stipulate that smokers will not be hired in states where it is legal to do so. If you are a smoker, you could be limiting your opportunities for hire or advancement. The Towers Watson survey found that 4% of companies have adopted such a policy and 2% more are expected to each year. In the same survey, 52% of companies banned smoking on office property, a number that’s expected to increase to 60% next year. Meanwhile, 42% of companies use surcharges for tobacco users at approximately $50/month to cover health care costs.

Smoking is not only bad for your health; it has the potential to kill your career.

See below for a great video on both sides of the issue:

Readers, what are your thoughts on this issue? Should employers be able to ban smoking at the workplace and be allowed to not hire someone because of their habit?

Best wishes,

Anita

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Too Sick, or Not Too Sick…

Dear Anita,

I feel a cold coming on!  I need to get work done at the office, but I’m just not feeling 100%.  Also, many of my colleagues tend to give the “evil eye” when colleagues are coughing/sneezing in the office.  Do you have any tips on when it is okay to take a sick day, and when it is not?

Sick_KidDear, Under the Weather,

I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling your best. Coming down with a cold can really put a damper on both personal and professional obligations. Being too sick to work or not sick enough to stay home is a very fine line that is, more often than not, as clear as mud. This leaves you asking the question, what should I do? With cold and flu season in full swing, let’s clear the air and get down to how to handle it.

My general advice is to err on the side of caution, take care of yourself, and stay home for the day. If you are unsure of what to do, even after hearing advice from an old lady like me, here are some questions to ask that might help clarify your dilemma, courtesy of WebMD.

  • How well can you perform your job when you are feeling like death is knocking at your door?
  • Are you contagious and putting your coworkers at risk?
  • Will rest be the best course of action for your body and well-being?
  • Are you being prescribed medications that may make it unsafe for you to drive to work or perform your job duties?
  • Would you like it if your coworkers came to the office and exposed you to an illness?

Sick_WomanIf you are still undecided or afraid of what your employer might think of you missing work, visit your local urgent care center or schedule an appointment with your doctor. Odds are, they will side with me and suggest that you take it easy and avoid stressful/strenuous activities. If you are worried your manager will not take your illness seriously enough, request that your doctor write a note explaining that you are sick and are unable to work.  If missing work entirely is not an option, try speaking with your manager about performing your job duties at home (if it applies to your position).

So take my advice, Under the Weather, and take a day or two off from work to rest and recuperate. Drink plenty of fluids, sip on warm tea, get your fill of nutritious soup, and give yourself time to get better. Trust me, when it is all said and done, you and your coworkers will greatly appreciate it.

Readers: What are your thoughts on staying home sick or coming to work? Do you have secret trick or “remedy” that you use to help you bounce back fast?

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Anita A-choo

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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