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90% of employees go to work sick

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It’s the time of the year again when a lot of people are starting to catch the flu bug, but many haven’t let that get in the way of work.

In fact, an overwhelming 90% of workers in the US still go to work even when they know they have caught the bug, the annual Flu Season Survey by Staples found.

The study also revealed it is a growing trend, as the proportion of workers reporting to work sick rose from 80% last year, and 60% in 2011. The survey also revealed workers had a good understanding of flu prevention.

The biggest reason sick employees still drag themselves to work was because they did not want to fall behind on their workload, as cited by 45% of the 316 office workers surveyed.

Even though they understood it was best to stay out of the office for at least three days when sick, a majority also chose to take less than two days off.

Up to 57% of them knew the flu virus could survive on a hard surface for up to three days, while almost half (49%) understood they are contagious for one day before symptoms show, and five to seven days after being sick.

“Flu season poses a big problem for businesses – each year it causes an estimated 70 million missed workdays and billions in lost office productivity,” Lisa Hamblet, vice president for facility solutions at Staples Advantage, said.

She advised employees and employers to adopt healthier habits such as supplying the office with products such as hand sanitizers and cleaning products.

Employers should also offer telecommuting programmes for employees so they can work from home when ill. The study reported more than 50% of workers offered such programmes avoided sickness during the flu season. Lastly, workers should be encouraged to stay out of the office despite fear of falling behind on their workload, as their productivity is compromised by up to 60% when they are sick in the office.

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