For the first time in five years, the number of employees who said they go to work with the flu has dropped to 60 percent, after four straight years of increases, according to the fifth annual Flu Season Survey from Staples.
The 60-percent figure marks a drop from last year, and yet many employees still feel they can’t take a sick day, according to the office-supply retailer. Indeed, despite 88 percent of managers encouraging sick employees to stay at home, 40 percent of workers feel there is too much going on at work to stay away, and 31 percent show up sick because they think their boss appreciates it.
The Staples survey finds there are a number of factors that have contributed to the drop in employees going to work sick, including:
• Sick employees coming into work are now considered worse for office productivity than a security breach;
• Presenteeism recognized as a bigger problem than absenteeism;
• Employees are taking charge of their own health and wellness; and
• Recent virus outbreaks are affecting behavior.
“While we are encouraged that for the first time in five years the number of sick employees coming into work has dropped, 60 percent is still a significant number,” said Chris Correnti, vice president of Staples Facility Solutions at Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples.
“Clearly there is still much work to be done. Recent outbreaks such as Enterovirus in the U.S. underscore the importance of fostering a culture of workplace wellness. ”
Meanwhile, last year was one of the worst flu seasons on record, reports outplacement consultancy Challenger, Christmas & Gray, with more than two-thirds of states reporting that the flu outbreak had reached “severe” levels, says CEO John Challenger.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that, on average, seasonal flu outbreaks cost the nation’s economy $10.4 billion in direct costs of hospitalizations and outpatient visits. That does not include the indirect costs related to lost productivity and absenteeism. Online resource, Flu.gov, cites one study estimating that each flu season 111 million workdays are lost to flu-related absenteeism, which amounts to about $7 billion annually in lost productivity.
“New York alone saw more than 15,000 reported cases in the first month of the season, compared to fewer than 5,000 in the entire previous season. These outbreaks and the resulting workplace absenteeism can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line; particularly in smaller companies where illness can spread quickly and incapacitate large portions of a workforce,” Challenger adds.Twitter It!