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My coworker got me sick

December 19, 2016

By Sara Pebbles, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Last week Staples released the results of their 2016 Cold and Flu Survey.  In its seventh year, the survey found that even though employees and employers are aware of prevention techniques and the dangers of coming to work while ill, nearly 80% of employees still admitted that they went to work sick last year. 73% of employees claimed to have caught a cold or flu at work, and 32% blamed their coworkers for getting sick last year.

Employees and managers are showing that they are aware of the cold/flu and how to prevent catching it.  Almost 60% know that viruses can live on a surface for up to three days, and 47% of managers reported that they clean their work station on a daily basis. Two-thirds of managers said that it is worse for the business for an employee to come to work sick and not be fully productive, than it is for the employee to stay home.

What can an employer do to maintain a healthy work place?

  • Provide disinfecting materials – Less than half of respondents said that their office provides disinfecting wipes to clean their stations, and 77% bring them to work on their own.
  • Provide or promote preventative measures – 61% of employees think that their employer should offer flu shots.
  • Lead by example – More than 70% of employees would like their employers to encourage workers to stay home when sick. Managers and leaders can do so by staying home when they are sick themselves.

Nobody wants to get sick, and the survey shows that employees are desperate to stay healthy.  More than half of the workers surveyed said that they would give up both social media and coffee for a year to guarantee that they won’t get sick, and almost half said they would give up a vacation day to a sick coworker to keep them out of the workplace.  

While employees want to stay healthy and know that staying home is ideal, the pressure to come to work is worse than any virus they may have.  Almost half of employees feel there is too much going on at work to stay home, and just over half think that going to work sick makes them “hardworking and committed.”

“Seasonal illnesses like the flu and the common cold wreak havoc on the workplace, and the impact is even greater when sick employees continue to show up to the workplace,” said Chris Correnti, vice president of Staples Facility Solutions at Staples Business Advantage. “Managers need to lead by example and stay home when they are sick, and both employees and employers need to be held accountable for keeping germs at bay in the workplace by providing the right tools to maintain a healthy workplace.”

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