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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Nearly 90% of office workers come to work even when they know they are sick, according to the fourth annual Flu Season Survey from Staples. The findings show a growing trend when compared to last year’s findings indicating 80% of workers come to work sick, and up from 60% in the 2011 Staples survey.
“Flu season poses a big problem for businesses — each year it causes an estimated 70 million missed workdays and billions in lost office productivity. It’s critical that both employees and employers take notice and promote healthier habits,” stated Lisa Hamblet, VP facility solutions at Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples. “That can mean arming a workforce with simple products like hand sanitizer to large-scale industrial cleaning products and techniques. Diligence early in the flu season ensures health and productivity throughout the season.”
According to the survey, workers acknowledged that staying out three days when sick with the flu was appropriate. The majority of workers, however, stay out of the office for less than two days when sick, putting coworkers’ health and business productivity at risk. The primary reason most respondents cited for returning to work early was not wanting to fall behind on their workload (45%).
The survey does demonstrate that workers have a better understanding of flu prevention, however. According to the survey, 49% of respondents understand they are contagious with the flu virus for one day before symptoms develop and up to five-to-seven days after becoming sick, an improvement from 38% last year. And 57% know that flu viruses can live on a hard surface up to three days, a slight increase from last year; however, 66% of employees still only clean their desks once a week or less, up from 51% last year.