Q: One of my directors has always had a touch of the hypochondriac, but with all the flu that's been around things are going too far. He's started picking on people with a sniffle, telling them off for coming in to work and spreading their germs when they could have stayed at home. It's annoying the team and driving me crazy - our absence record is great and I want it to stay that way, but it won't if everyone with a winter cold stays at home. What can I do to get him to chill out?
Jeremy says: You probably have at least one member of staff who's taken basic first-aid training, with a certificate or two to show for it. So you should write an all-staff memo and/or email along the following lines:
Subject: Winter colds, coughs and sniffles
There's a lot of them about and people often don't know whether it's more responsible to stay at home or to struggle into the office. It's a bit unfair to expect people to make the decision themselves, so I've asked Gwen Davies, who's our in-house 'medico', to act as sole arbiter. Whenever you find yourself snuffling and sneezing, check with Gwen - and if she advises you to stay at home, please do. (We need to be consistent about this, so no one else - except, of course, your doctor - can tell you to do so.)
Your hypochondriac director should take the message. If he doesn't, you can reasonably ask him to toe the company line.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.