Survey: Seven in 10 Workers Frequently Come to the Office When Feeling Sick

PR Newswire

MENLO PARK, Calif., Jan. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- "In sickness and in health" is a vow typically made in a wedding ceremony, but many workers also live by these words in their jobs, a new OfficeTeam survey shows. Seven in 10 (70 percent) professionals admitted they frequently go to work when they're feeling sick. Managers are aware of the issue: Sixty-five percent said that ailing employees head into the office at least somewhat frequently.

The surveys of workers and managers were developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. They were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from more than 400 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Workers were asked, "How frequently do you go into work when you're feeling sick?" Their responses:

Very frequently

43%

Somewhat frequently

27%

Somewhat infrequently

17%

Never

13%

Don't know/no answer

1%


             101%*

Managers were asked, "How often do you think employees come to work when they feel sick?" Their responses:

Very frequently

12%

Somewhat frequently

53%

Somewhat infrequently

25%

Never

11%


             101%*

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

View an infographic of the research results on feeling sick at work.

The survey also revealed differences by age: Workers between the ages of 35 and 44 were more likely than any other age group to frequently go to work when feeling sick (88 percent).

"Many professionals fear falling behind or feel that they can't afford to take a sick day, so they head into work when they are under the weather," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Managers should encourage their teams to stay home when they are sick. Let staff know that there's nothing heroic about spreading colds and flus."

OfficeTeam offers five tips to help maintain a well workplace:

  1. Address the issue head-on. At the start of cold or flu season, remind staff to avoid spreading illness throughout the office by staying home when they are sick.
  2. Model the behavior. If you're a manager, resist the urge to come in sick yourself. If you do, employees will assume the same is expected of them.
  3. Give "homework." Offer those suffering from minor ailments the ability to work from home, if possible. They may be less likely to come in and infect others if they don't have to use sick days.
  4. Keep it clean. Encourage staff to clean up common areas, like break rooms, and make hand sanitizer available to avoid the spread of germs.
  5. Have a back-up plan. Identify team members who can take over responsibilities for sick employees to avoid backlogs. Hire temporary professionals, if necessary, to keep projects on track.

About OfficeTeam

OfficeTeam is the nation's leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide. More information, including online job search services and the OfficeTeam Take Note blog (blog.officeteam.com), can be found at officeteam.com.

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