More than four out of 10 (45 per cent) professionals recently surveyed admitted they very frequently go to work when they feel sick. However, only 17 per cent of managers polled believe the practice is this common.

The two surveys were developed by OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from 522 workers 18 years of age or older employed in office environments, and 150 senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

Workers were asked, “How frequently do you go into work when you’re feeling sick?”

Their responses:

Very frequently: 45 per cent;

Somewhat frequently: 30 per cent;

Somewhat infrequently: 17 per cent;

Never: 8 per cent.

Executives were asked, “How often do you think employees come to work when they feel sick?” Their responses:

Very frequently: 17 per cent;

Somewhat frequently: 57 per cent;

Somewhat infrequently: 24 per cent;

Never: 1 per cent.

OfficeTeam notes that some managers may not realize the adverse effects of this practice on productivity, and offers them the following 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 results were then weighted to provide projectable estimates.

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