You’re Probably Way More Careful About Germs Than Your Employees

2 min read
Feb 19, 2017

Staples released their seventh annual cold-and-flu-season survey, and it contains some surprises. For example, it turns out almost half of the respondents would gladly sacrifice one of their vacation days to a sick person to help keep the office free of his or her germs. (58% of the survey’s respondents are aware that the germs can survive up to three days on office surfaces and equipment.) Nonetheless, 80% of respondents reported going to work sick themselves.

The survey included 1,500 office workers in the United States. These were full-timers who spend a minimum of 50% of their work time in an office environment. 796 were standard employees, and 704 were categorized as decision makers.

Employees are Sick at Work


The CDC warns that this year looks like it’s going to be a tough season for the flu, so staying healthy is on a lot of minds. Here are some takeaways:

Managers and bosses seem to be the people most acutely aware of germ containment.

  • 47% of managers clean or sanitize their work space equipment on a daily basis. Only 34% of all workers do this.
  • 44% of managers have called in sick not because they themselves were, but just to avoid catching something from sick coworkers. Just about half as many workers do this (22%).
  • 75% of managers say someone coming in sick to work and incapable of performing at their usual level hurts a company more than their staying home and getting better. Last year, only 31% felt this way.


At the same time, employees wish their companies would try a little harder to keep them well.

  • Only 48% of workers work in places where disinfecting wipes are made available by the company.
  • 77% of workers bring in their own wipes.
  • 61% of workers would like their companies to offer flu shots to the staff.
  • 74% would like companies to more seriously support the idea of staying home when you’re sick so you get the rest you need to bounce back. 41% said they worked sick last year. 52% said they felt they were viewed as being committed team players when they worked sick. 41% said there was just too much on their plate at the office to stay home for illness.

Managers play a key role in promoting a workplace environment where getting healthy is viewed as being a greater contribution to the company than toughing it out, working at a diminished level, and infecting others. This expectation should be set as a part of employee onboarding and reinforced regularly by company leaders. By continuing to set good examples and keeping a close eye on the staff to make sure they’re taking care of themselves when they need to, smart managers keep employees — and their company — healthy and strong.




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