Workers Still Report to Work When Sick, Survey Reveals

A new CareerBuilder Canada survey finds that 66 percent of workers typically go to work when they are sick. Workplace pressures and "presenteeism" may be causing workers to go in under the weather, as more than 60 percent of workers said they feel guilty if they call in sick. The CareerBuilder survey was conducted across Canada from Nov. 15, 2010 to Dec. 2, 2010 among 550 workers.

With so many workers heading to work ill, they are likely passing their germs on to others. Nearly 6 in 10 workers (58 percent) said they have gotten sick from a co-worker who came to the office sick, while 21 percent said they picked up a bug from someone who was sick on public transportation going to or from work.

"Its important for employees to take care of their health and the health of others by staying at home if they arent feeling well," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.ca. "Even if workers feel pressure to be at the office, they should talk to their managers about staying home if they are sick, or ask about other options such as working remotely. Most employers are flexible and understand that employees are more productive if they are feeling their best."

To help encourage a healthy workplace, 12 percent of employees said their companies provided flu shots at their office. Twenty-eight percent said they were proactive and got a flu shot this year. When workers were asked what other ways they attempt to avoid germs, they said the following:

- I wash my hands often 76 percent

- I regularly clean my keyboard, phone, desk, etc. 29 percent

- I carry hand sanitizer with me and use it often 24 percent

- I avoid shaking hands with people 18 percent

- I skip meetings where I know people are sick 4 percent

Haefner offers the following tips for staying well at work:

- Dont share your germs: If you are sick, do your best to keep your germs away from others by staying home. If you absolutely must come into the office, try to work in a conference room or away from others so you dont spread your sickness. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

- Keep it balanced: With many workers facing heavier workloads and longer hours, some may be feeling maxed out. Be sure to manage your stress and stay healthy by taking a break during the day, exercising or even practicing yoga or meditation.

- Talk it out: If you are concerned about taking days off work when you are ill, talk to your manager or HR department so that you have a clear understanding on how your sick days can be used. Offer to telecommute, delegate or call-in if necessary, but ensure you get as much rest as possible so you are back on your feet.

This survey was conducted online within Canada by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 550 Canadian workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between November 15 and December 2, 2010 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 550 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 4.18 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

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