80% of employees come to work sick, despite knowing dangers
- Nearly half of employees surveyed by Staples Business Advantage in its seventh annual cold and flu survey say they would give up a vacation day to allow a sick coworker stay home. Although workers know that coming to work sick during cold and flu season endangers coworkers, almost 80% do so anyway. Nearly 73% of workers said they caught a cold at work, and 32% blamed their fellow coworkers, results showed.
- The survey also focused on managers’ responses, and found that 47% sanitized their work area each day, compared with 34% of all workers; 44% called in sick when they weren’t to avoid sick workers; and 58% knew that flu and cold viruses can live on surfaces for as many as three days, slightly more than last year’s respondents.
- Employees were also asked about employer efforts to improve disease prevention. 48% said their employer has disinfecting wipes in the office; 77% of employees bring their own. Two-thirds, 61%, think employers should offer flu shots, and 74% think employers should encourage workers to stay home and rest when they’re sick.
The survey showed that employees and managers are savvy about the consequences of coming to work with potentially contagious illnesses. That’s the good news. But far too many are coming to work sick anyway.
Most employees in the survey said companies should encourage sick workers to stay home, but don’t, which might be part of the problem. Without paid sick time, employees, especially those in low-wage jobs, will come to work ill out of fear of losing a day’s pay. Legislation has been enacted to provide paid sick leave in a few locales, without negative on business.
Company culture can also discourage workers from staying home. Employees who feel pressured to work despite their health or other personal responsibilities risk getting sicker or making others ill. Companies can encourage sick workers to stay home by having policies that emphasize the need to maintain a healthy workplace.