The Co-Worker Next to You is Probably Contagious

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Co-Worker Remember when calling in sick used to be no big deal? In fact, you were tempted to use sick leave at the slightest hint of a sniffle, cough or headache. Well, that trend went out with the recession.

These days, workers have so much on their plates and are so worried about keeping their jobs that they're dragging themselves into work, even when they're deathly ill. A new CareerBuilder survey recently found that 66 percent of workers typically go to work when they are sick, and more than 60 percent of workers said they feel guilty if they call in sick.

Of course with so many workers heading to work ill, they are likely passing their germs on to others. Nearly six-in-ten workers (58 percent) said they have gotten sick from a co-worker who came to the office sick, while 21 percent said they picked up a bug from someone who was sick on public transportation going to or from work.

"It's important for employees to take care of their health and the health of others by staying at home if they aren't feeling well," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Even if workers feel pressure to be at the office, they should talk to their managers about staying home if they are sick, or ask about other options such as working remotely. Most employers are flexible and understand that employees are more productive if they are feeling their best."

To help encourage a healthy workplace, 12 percent of employees said their companies provided flu shots at their office. Twenty-eight percent said they were proactive and got a flu shot this year. When workers were asked what other ways they attempt to avoid germs, they said the following:

  • I wash my hands often – 76 percent
  • I regularly clean my keyboard, phone, desk, etc. – 29 percent
  • I carry hand sanitizer with me and use it often – 24 percent
  • I avoid shaking hands with people – 18 percent
  • I skip meetings where I know people are sick – 4 percent

"If you are concerned about taking days off work when you are ill, talk to your manager or HR department so that you have a clear understanding on how your sick days can be used," Haefner advises. "Offer to telecommute, delegate or call-in if necessary, but ensure you get as much rest as possible so you are back on your feet."


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