Flickr, Eneas

There are many scared workers in the business arena today.  You see friends laid off and unable to secure another job.  An unemployment scenario replays in your head as you envision what would happen to family life without that income.

When colleagues have been let go, extra duties fall on the remaining staff, and people do not complain.  They are simply thankful that they are included in the ranks of the employed.  They work longer hours to cover the duties of dismissed colleagues, take work home, and do not even consider putting in for overtime.  Even many of those supposedly on furlough are still doing work from home.  They need to maintain their presence and reinforce their value to their managers and employers.

As a result, many businesses are enjoying the productivity of fear-inspired workers.  When people are working longer hours and are more stressed, their immune systems are more easily compromised.  They will be more susceptible to illness. 

At the same time, many are reluctant to put in for sick days. When people are afraid to take time off, what happens when the first symptoms of swine flu, or any illness, strike?

The government is asking anyone who thinks they might have any possibility of symptoms to stay home so that we do not further spread the germs.  However with so much work to do and a need to be indispensible, will everyone abide by that request?

I see something different happening.  Overworked and overstressed employees will struggle to come in, ignoring the early symptoms because they have so much to do.  Of course, since they are not feeling well, they will not be as productive.  By the time they have no choice but to stay home, their department has been well exposed, and the circle continues.

If swine flu does get a good grip this season, the recession will likely be a strong contributor.