There are multiple reasons why most American workers don’t stay home when they get sick. During cold and flu season this year, make sure that pressure from your boss isn’t one of them!
Spreading illness at work can wreak havoc on your work environment. Yet for a variety of reasons, nearly 90% of workers don’t stay home when they fall ill. A 2014 study showed that many people feel their jobs are too important. Others just don’t get sick time, and can’t afford to miss the hours and pay. And then others claim that missing work makes them look bad to their boss.
Yet the reality is that working while sick doesn’t help you or your employer. Bosses need to know this, and if they don’t get it, here are 8 reasons why you should really stay home. Consider sharing the wisdom the next time come down with something.
1. Sickness in the office spreads EXTREMELY fast
Just by contaminating a single door knob, a virus can spread to half of all office surfaces within four hours, according to a recent study by the University of Arizona. That original virus also turned up on the hands of nearly half of the office’s 80 employees in the same window. YIKES!
Researchers also said that virus can spread around in this manner even if just a single infected person comes to the office. Meaning if you’re sick, you could theoretically infect HALF your co-workers just by showing up for your shift.
2. Germs stick around
Flu viruses can stay active on surfaces like desks, conference tables and keyboards for up to 48 hours. So even if that sick co-worker decided to go home after lunch, you could still get infected a full two days later.
However the greatest chance for getting sick is from direct contact with another employee, which is pretty troubling when you consider the following:
3. Co-workers do little to prevent the spread of illness
Half of workers don’t wash their hands once they get to the office, a recent study found. Workers could also help slow the spread of infection by sneezing into their arm rather than their hands and by “bumping fists” instead of than shaking hands. It should already be obvious to your boss that neither behavior is very commonplace.
4. The desk carries some of the greatest amounts of germs.
A 2002 study found that the common workplace desk has 100s of times more germs than TOILET SEATS in the office! Makes you want to reconsider eating at your desk, doesn’t it?
5. Sick people are far less productive at work.
Most all studies show that sick people perform worse at work. For example, Staples ran a study 2 years ago showing that employees were 60% less productive when working in the office while sick. This is pretty unsurprising of course: and most workers already report to being half as productive when they show up sick at the office.
6. Sick people coming to work creates more sick people.
In sum, when one sick people show up at work, other employees get sick too. Employees with the flu who don’t stay home end up creating 20 – 30% more sick days for the rest of the workforce, according to the Disability Management Employer Coalition.
7. Working when sick prolongs the time needed to recover.
We don’t need a doctor to tell us that pushing the limits when sick only makes us sicker, and draws out the length of time needed to get better. Just read this article if you still think you can “power through” your next sick spell. So think about the fact that the only thing to gain from working while sick is the increased chance missing even more work later.
8. All of this is very expensive for the company.
60% of corporate health costs are caused by sick people coming to work, according to one study by Cornell University. What does that mean in dollars? Well, research by the Integrated Benefits Institute shows that sickness costs U.S. employers $227 billion from “lost productivity” every year, with a good chunk of that caused by employees coming to work sick.
Prescription: get your boss to acknowledge the facts!