- Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans who contract the flu call out sick from work or school, according to a report from Stericycle — but many employees feel pressured to keep working.
- Of those who contract the illness, many will miss more than a week, reducing productivity nationwide, the group found.
- But prevention efforts — like vaccinations and hand washing — are up over last year, Stericycle found. And while less than half of workplaces offered flu shots as a benefit (and even fewer offered on-site vaccinations), those that do are viewed more positively by their employees, the report found.
While more workers are paying attention to flu prevention, many still feel pressed to come to work sick. A 2018 Walgreens survey revealed that 40% of workers admit coming to work with the flu.
Employers can't afford to dismiss the serious consequences associated with such actions. The 2018-19 flu season was one of the longest on record — and this year's season has started early, meaning it could reach similar heights, according to the CDC. Productivity may suffer, but employers should encourage those with the flu to stay home rather than spread the virus to co-workers.
Employers also may need to review their sick time policies to see if they put undue pressure on workers to come to work ill. To prevent the spread of the flu in the workplace, experts recommend employers offer on-site flu shots, encourage workers to stay home when sick and consider telework arrangements for appropriate positions.