“High influenza-like indicators” were recently reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 24 to 29 states and New York City. Flu-like symptoms have been reported in 47 states. Nevertheless, most employees show up for work with flu symptoms when they should not.
Most employees show up for work sick
Two recent surveys confirm that employees are highly likely to show up for work sick and are likely to infect others. Walgreens conducted a study in September 2011 and Harris Interactive conducted a survey in November 2012 for Cintas Corp.
- 84 percent report to work sick according to Cintas.
- 80 percent report to work with flu symptoms according to Walgreens.
- 45 percent “take no precautions to avoid direct contact with others in the form of shaking hands, fist bumps and so on,” Cintas reports.
- 45 percent “refrain from warning others of their illness, says Cintas.
- 5 to 20 percent of the population get the flu every year according to the Center for Disease Control.
Flu advice: stay away from work
The Walgreens study found, “100 million workdays were lost during the 2010-2011 due to influenza.”
“While sick employees may think they are doing the right thing by ‘toughing it out’ and coming into work when ill, the fact is they are only making matters worse, says John Challenger, Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a Chicago outplacement firm.
“Workplaces can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria when workers engage in presenteeism, or attending work while sick,” John Amann, vice president, first aid and safety, Cintas told WorldatWork recently.
How to minimize the effects of flu in the workplace
Patricia Curran, RN, advises employers to make flu shots available at work or encourage paid time off from work to get a flu shot. Readers can find where to get immunization at www.flu.gov. Employers are recommended to encourage flu shots, examine sick leave policies, communicate how to prevent flu and keep their workplace clean by Society for Human Resource Management’s Flu Resource page.