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

By Kathy Morris - Oct. 6, 2021

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Nothing is worse than hearing a cough over a cubicle wall- or worse, seeing your coworker coughing their lung out in your open office.

However, for a variety of reasons including lack of PTO, a mountain of work that waits for no flu, and 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.

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Why Workers Go Into Work Sick

Ultimately, there is no single reason why workers go into 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 into 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

Zippia.com, 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?

A little germs can have big costs to business operations. Not only are sick workers likely less productive themselves, they can get otherwise healthy coworkers sick and drag the whole team into a groddy, 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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Author

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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