Worker Germs a Bigger Problem than Employers Think

January 22, 2009 ( - Recent surveys suggest employers may not realize how big a problem they have with workers coming into the office sick.

Nearly half (45%) of professionals recently surveyed by staffing service OfficeTeam admitted they very frequently go to work when they feel sick, according to a press release. However, only 17% of managers polled believe the practice is this common.

Nearly one-third (30%) of professionals said they somewhat frequently go to work when they’re sick and 57% of managers indicated this was true.

OfficeTeam said in the press release that some managers may not realize the adverse effects of this practice on productivity and offers tips for ensuring staff do not come to work when ill:

  • Communicate expectations. Let staff know that you prefer they stay home when they’re sick to ensure a quicker recovery.
  • Set an example. Employees are more likely to stay home when they’re sick if you do the same.
  • Give options. Allowing employees to work from home if they think they’re coming down with a cold or the flu can help them stay productive without spreading a potential illness to others.
  • Offer help. Bring in temporary professionals to keep projects on track when employees are out sick for more than a day or two.

The survey of professionals is based on telephone interviews with 522 full- or part-time office workers from a starting sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 or older. The manager survey is based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.