Do You Go to Work Sick?

Are you one of those people who suffers through a cold or the flu and goes in to work anyway? If so, you’re not alone, according to a study by Staples Advantage. Staples Advantage interviewed 150 workers for its 2011 flu and germ survey. And the results are surprising.

Approximately 70% of workers go to work even when they’re sick. They have sick days, but whether it’s due to workaholism or a tough boss, they’re coming in anyway.

And while all of the employees surveyed are concerned about catching germs at work, only 40% of them do anything to kill germs in their work surroundings. The kitchen sponge, keyboard and phone ranked as the dirtiest items in the office, and while 90% of those surveyed eat lunch at their desks, less than 10% actually clean their desks regularly with disinfectant.

Do you encourage your employees to stay home?

Many employees take a note from their bosses when it comes to working through illness. If you’re showing up with a hacking cough or looking green, there’s a higher likelihood they will too. And while you love your workers to be productive, they’re actually not when they’re sick. You end up with more sick employees and less work being done.

Prevent the Spread of Germs in Your Office

In honor of this week, the 2011 International Clean Hands Week, we encourage you to help your employees stay healthy year ’round. Staples Advantage recommends these easy steps to help offices and employees maintain a healthier environment:

  • Focus on the Simple Solution: Proper hand washing is the most important technique that many people ignore. Ensure proper hand washing by providing self-foaming soap, touch-free fixtures and motion-sensor dispensers in bathrooms.
  • Be Prepared: Some important products to have on hand, just-in-case, include latex gloves, masks, sanitizing wipes and disinfecting cleaning chemicals. Also, clean common touch surfaces such as bathroom doors, elevator buttons and ATM machines more frequently.
  • Utilize Technology As Much As Possible: Technology and home office solutions can help encourage employees to stay home when sick to prevent the spread of germs and the flu. Whenever possible, promote telecommuting as an option for employees when they’re feeling ill.

Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

10 Reactions
  1. Stay home if you’re sick people. Nobody wants to catch what you’ve got and a majority of the time that project you think you *have* to get done can wait.

  2. Going to work sick is not encouraged and is not recommended. Recovering from a flu or any other malady is what a person needs to do. Not only for the sake of others but the sick person also. I remember I knew someone who worked with a lady who used to come sick, because she did not like calling in sick. They used to send her home because they did not want the whole company sick!
    Not only people can spread the germs but their efficiency is not there.
    Mark Brundage UOBIM

  3. Agree, staying home rather than passing illness on to others should be the norm, however, a large number of companies operate a PTO system (Paid Time Off) whereby the allocation is to be used for vacation days, personal time off and sick days. Hence, when folks are sick they drag themselves into the workplace so as not to use up PTO.

  4. I agree that staying home is the best option. However, as a working mom, my sick days went to my kids. I rarely took a sick day for myself. This is a reality for many working parents. To minimize the spread of infections, I kept a spray bottle of wintergreen alcohol and paper towels in my desk. Whenever anyone, including myself, was sick, I made sure I cleaned the work station. Best 5 minute investment I ever made: The first year I did that, we cut down on a lot of people getting sick.

  5. Unfortunately, most companies these days, while they SAY they do not want workers coming in sick, actually encourage workers to come in sick with attendance policies with punitive consequences if they do not come in.

  6. It is not only rude (that is not contagious), it is DISGUSTING that people reporting to work while sick do not take precautions against spreading their illness/disease. Come on people please consider others!!

  7. As others have noted, a good number of folks come in sick because they have to, as benefits decrease (such as more costly co-pays) and businesses put more pressure on salaries as well, because they can in a tight job market.

    The long term solution is single payer health care, which takes the burden off businesses, not buying more gallons of sanitizer. That is just treating the symptom, not the disease, so to speak.

  8. Thank you for the great tips. I totally agree with you on having the option to telecommute. If an employee has a common cold for example, which is contagious, it is for the best interest of everyone that he or she stay home and get the work done. That way, the employee is not lacking behind, and the colleagues are not at risk of getting sick.

  9. Yes I have to admit that I do go to work sick but then everyone else around me does too. It would have to be a really severe bout for me to stay home but I need the money so I tend to use Friday afternoon and the weekend to get over anything.