Monday AM February 2nd, 2009

With cold and flu season here, an office team survey finds that more than four out of ten employees polled say they frequently show up to work while sick. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of man clenching his head

The survey indicates that while it’s common for employees to go to work while sick, only 17 per cent of managers believe the practice is very frequent.  Office Team’s Caroline McGlaun says an independent research firm conducted the poll of 522 workers and 150 senior executives.

“Almost half of the people that we surveyed, as far as employees go — they show up to work when they’re sick.  And there’s a lot of different reasons for that, but as far as employers go, employers first of all, they don’t realize how many people actually do come and and try to do a day’s worth work when they’re not feeling well.  Employees think, ‘Oh wow, if I go into work when I’m not feeling well, it’ll show that I’m putting my best forward.’  However, employers prefer they stay home so they don’t infect the rest of the office.” 

McGlaun says good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, can help you avoid a co-worker’s cold.

“I think people take for granted, you know, that the germs that, you know, float around even with just a simple cold, and people show up all the time when they’re sick and they think ‘oh, it’s just a cold, it won’t hurt anybody.’  And then before you know it, the entire office is sick.  People are having to take time off.  So, productivity is down because half of your staff is out, so I think, you know, it has a lot of consequences that people don’t think about.”  

McGlaun says these days there are high-tech options for getting the work done, even if you can’t come into the office.  She says employers should communicate expectations and set examples. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.