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Sick Workforce? Encourage Them to Stay Home

As if missing work for regular doctor check-ups, parent/teacher meetings and whatever have you wasn’t enough of a stress motivator, now you’re deciding if staying away from the office for a day or two is worth it or if you can tough it out.

A study discovered by Staples found 90% of Americans are going to work sick when they know they should be staying home. The results also show these ill employees are only 60% as productive as their healthy other half would be if they rested just for a day and a half.


Why employees come to work sick

Editor John Brandon from Inc.com interviewed the vice president of Staples, Chris Correnti, to further discuss the findings in the survey performed on sick employees in the office. Correnti revealed 48% of employees feel pressured to come into work while sick in fear they will be viewed as slacking or not providing for the team, especially in small businesses. Another 31% of employees come into the office under the weather because they believe their boss likes to see the drive. Negative, ghostrider. Interestingly enough, the Staple study says ill employees in the office are more of a concern than having employees absent from their desk completely.

Is it too late?

Sneeze alert: Many people are unaware the time they are most contagious is when the symptoms first kick in and you have a hunch a storm of sneezes is approaching. Thomas Fekete, MD says this is the most contagious point in the illness before the worst of the storm kicks in. This is the point in the illness where taking a day off would be useful to you and the surrounding office mates. The first six to 12 hours of an illness can make or break a nasty cold depending on your actions according to Fekete.

How management can prevent presenteeism

Feeding off the statistics above, about employees feeling impressive and dedicated by attending work while ill instead of staying home, calls for management to step in. Branch manager of Office Team, Deryl Pigat, advises management teams to encourage taking sick days during flu season. “Managers need to lead the change,” says Pigat. Leading by example is the best way to get the crowd to follow and maintain a healthier office.

How employees can shield from sneezenados

Many of us are probably aware there are tons of simple practices to shield us from illness we aren’t taking part in. Here are a few to consider to fight the bug:

  • Sprinkle your morning with Vitamin D: Popping a Vitamin D every morning makes you 49% less likely to catch a cold according to WebMD
  • Clean everything with bleach: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says wiping down germy surfaces such as door handles, remotes, bathroom countertops and keyboards can knock out noroviruses in the office and home. Note: most disinfectant wipes don’t include bleach; which is the main ingredient necessary for killing germs. The Huffington Post says the average office keyboard contains five times more germs than a toilet seat.
  • Frequently washing your hands: The CDC suggests soap and water on your hands as frequently as possible– while most hand sanitizers contain 60% alcohol, they are only useful for temporary fix. The CDC also says to sanitize before touching eyes, nose or mouth when bugs are flying around the office.


Surviving flu season doesn’t have to be impossible. While offices during this time of year can seem like a battlefield in the fight for health, taking simple steps to remain productive and healthy doesn’t have to be a battle. Get your flu shots on time, disinfect, sanitize and take care of your body holistically with plenty of vitamins and rest. Consider this year’s bug tackled.