In Sickness and In Health: Majority of Employees Say They Go to Work Ill

Nov. 1, 2005
They may not have taken any vows, but today's workers certainly appear to be committed to their jobs perhaps overly so.

Eighty percent of employees polled said they frequently show up to work while sick. A mere 8 percent of respondents said they never come into the office when feeling under the weather.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals.

Survey respondents were asked, "How frequently do you go into work when you're feeling sick?" Nearly 50 percent responded they go into work "very frequently" when feeling sick. Another 31 percent indicated they go into work "somewhat frequently" when feeling ill. Only 8 percent said they never go into work when feeling sick.

Managers acknowledge that ailing employees often come into the office, but the practice may be more common than many realize. In a separate poll of 150 senior executives including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments just 21 percent of respondents said they thought sick employees came into work very frequently when ill.

The majority of the executives (51 percent) said they thought employees came to work when sick "somewhat frequently." Another 25 percent said employees came to work "somewhat infrequently when feeling ill.

"Many employees fear they'll fall behind if they stay at home when they're not feeling well," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "However, it's preferable to take a day or two to recuperate rather than risk exacerbating a condition or passing an illness on to coworkers."

With greater flu concerns this year, many companies are actively encouraging sick employees to stay home. "Managers should let employees know that staying away from the office is the right thing to do when they are ill. Actions often speak louder than words if supervisors show up when they're feeling poorly, employees may feel pressure to do the same," she said.

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