hen you show up for work with a sore throat, a runny nose, and the chills, don’t expect to be greeted as a hero for toughing it out. You’re not doing anyone a favour.

You’re not productive when you’re under the weather and this poses a problem for you, your employer, and even the country. Presenteeism, which is time spent at work while not productively engaged in work, drains the economy of billions of dollars every year. In fact, presenteeism costs the economy 10 times more than absenteeism according to a recent study conducted by a consultancy organization responsible for improving its clients’ employees’ health and performance.

The next time you wake up feeling lousy, drink tea with lemon, crawl under the covers, and don’t hesitate to call in sick.

Your desktop has more germs than a toilet seat

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — and the single best way to keep illness-causing germs at bay is to keep your hands clean. Most of us quickly run our hands under the tap before leaving the washroom, but that doesn’t do the trick. Dr. Gregory Taylor, Chief  Public Health Officer of Canada, recommends that you wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, dry them, and then use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.

Dr. Taylor says you need to be vigilant outside the washroom too. The average desktop has more germs than the average toilet seat, so clean your phone, keyboard, and mouse with disinfecting wipes. Make regular use of hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol. These products kill most bacteria and viruses on contact.

Just as it’s important to protect yourself from your co-workers’ germs, it’s also important to protect them from yours. Stay home when you’re sick and, when you’re at work, sneeze into the crook of your arm, not into the face of the person who sits in the next cubicle. “Sneeze into your sleeve,” says Dr. Taylor. “It’s not just for you. It’s for your entire community.”

As another step in keeping illness at bay, Dr. Taylor encourages Canadians to get an annual flu shot. He describes the vaccine as “safe and effective at reducing and limiting the flu.”

Above all else, Dr. Taylor advocates for Canadians to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Practising what he preaches, Dr. Taylor takes a holistic approach to staying healthy. “I get enough sleep every night, eat healthy meals, keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, and exercise regularly. I also stay at home when I’m sick,” he adds. “That goes without saying.”