Survey: Here’s Why Your Coworkers Are Getting You Sick

By Kathy Morris
Feb. 8, 2023
Fact Checked
Cite This Webpage Zippia. "Survey: Here’s Why Your Coworkers Are Getting You Sick" Feb. 8, 2023,
Research Summary. It’s unsettlingly common how many Americans show up to work sick. Whether due to a lack of PTO, a mountain of work that waits for no flu, or seasonal allergies, workers come in spewing their germs all over the place. To better understand why your coworkers are so disgusting, we surveyed 1,000 American workers, and our research shows that:

Survey Takeaways:

  • 92% of all workers go into work sick.

  • 62% of workers cite a lack of PTO and too much work as the main reasons they go to work sick.

  • 56% of workers go in sick because they’re afraid their employer would disapprove. Harsh.

  • Maybe it’s not all bad? 40% of workers go in sick because they Don’t feel contagious.

Unfortunately, going to work sick is a serious issue, especially in light of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. To find out more about the many other reasons workers make this choice, stay tuned.

Key Facts

Why Workers Go Into Work Sick

Rank Reason for going into work sick Share of workers
1 Too busy/too much work 62%
2 No paid time off (PTO) available 62%
3 Employer would disapprove 56%
4 Don’t want to use PTO 45%
5 Don’t believe I’m contagious 40%
6 Negative professional consequences 35%
7 Don’t want to let my coworkers down 21%
8 Coworkers come into work sick 18%
9 Other 8%

Ultimately, there is no single reason why workers go to work sick. In fact, the majority of respondents chose multiple reasons why they go into work despite being sick.

The two most common reasons were “too much work” and “lack of sick leave,” with 62% of respondents admitting to this being why they go into work. Other common reasons include fear of employer disapproval and saving limited PTO for other causes.

Employers hoping to cut back on inter-office germ spread could help by providing generous sick leave and establishing a company culture where normal life circumstances (like a case of flu) can roll back deadlines or other coworkers can sub in.

Curious about the 8% other? So were we, so we asked. Below you can see a summarization of the most commonly cited other reasons.

Other Common Reasons

  • Am capable of working/don’t feel that sick

  • Going to work is easier than not

  • Work ethic

  • Saving days off for worse sickness

In general, while these might be different reasons, they share a similar feel and sentiment with the others: For both personal and professional reasons, workers do not feel they have the flexibility to call in sick and that it is not acceptable.

Methodology, a career resource website, conducted a study of 1,000 workers across the US to better understand why workers come into work sick.

Each respondent was asked an identical series of questions.

The survey was conducted in September 2021, using Clickworker’s Survey platform

What’s A Little Germs Between Coworkers?

Little germs can have big costs to business operations. Not only are sick workers likely less productive themselves, but they can also get otherwise healthy coworkers sick and drag the whole team into a grody, unproductive pit of sickness and despair.

However, until federal sick leave laws are put in place and corporate culture changes, worker behavior is unlikely to change.

So next time you hear the unpleasant hacking sound of a colleague who should be at home, sure grab the Germex but instead of just being angry at them- consider rallying your workplace for better sick leave and work life

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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Topics: Study