U.S. Workforce Knows How to Prevent the Flu but More than Half Still Go to Work Sick, Putting Coworkers and Businesses at Risk

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Employees and employers are well aware of the impact of the flu on
workplace productivity, but more than half of people surveyed (53
percent) say they have gone to work with the flu, according to the sixth
annual flu season survey from Staples,
a leading provider of supplies that help keep offices healthy. The
findings show a strong understanding of how to stop the flu from
spreading, but a disconnect in following key prevention techniques.

Respondents are knowledgeable about the flu and flu prevention

A high percentage of survey respondents indicated a strong knowledge of
flu protection techniques:

  • 90 percent know they can protect themselves from the flu by eating
    right and washing hands regularly.
  • More than half (54 percent) know flu viruses can live up to three days
    on a surface.
  • 43 percent know they are contagious one day before flu symptoms
    develop and up to five to seven days after getting sick.

Despite high awareness, employees continue to work when sick

But employees still come to work when sick. Of the 30 percent of
respondents who came down with the flu last year, 55 percent still went
to work sick, and although 59 percent say they should stay home when
sick for two to three days, only 43 percent actually do so.

Employees are mindful of sick colleagues, with 88 percent of them having
encouraged sick colleagues to go home—even if they don’t practice what
they preach.

“It’s encouraging to see that employees have a strong understanding of
flu risks and prevention, but there’s still work to be done,” said Dr.
Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at
the University of Arizona who studies the transmission of pathogens
through the environment. “Staples’ survey shows that less than ten
percent of respondents sanitize their phone and only one percent
sanitize their tablet – two of the dirtiest items employees come in
contact with throughout the day. The flu wreaks havoc on U.S. employees
and in turn on businesses every year. Simple measures such as cleaning,
sanitizing and limiting exposure can make a huge difference.”

According to the survey, most employees (58 percent) are still coming to
work sick because they feel there is too much going on at work to take a
sick day, an uptick from 30 percent in 2012. Half of them feel the
pressure to be at work or “tough it out,” and 25 percent don’t feel
confident that someone else can handle their work when they’re out sick.

There is an even larger issue at the management level with 30 percent of
business decision makers (BDMs) indicating their boss expects them to
come to work if they have the flu, while only 19 percent of office
workers say so. In fact, 39 percent of BDMs think that going to work
while sick shows that they have extra initiative, compared to only 28
percent of office workers. More BDMs went into the office with the flu
because of pressure to be at work compared to office workers (54 percent
to 45 percent).

Flu season’s impact on businesses

Workers agree that workplace illness’s impact on a business is about as
damaging as a natural disaster, more damaging than a product/customer
service issue and nearly as damaging as a security breach.

“The flu is responsible for an estimated 70 million missed work days and
billions of dollars in lost office productivity each year, so clearly
businesses need to provide education and tools to keep workers healthy,”
said Chris Correnti, vice president of Staples Facility Solutions at
Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples.

It’s not just missed workdays that have a detrimental impact – 66
percent of respondents say presentism – going into work sick but not
maintaining productivity – is worse for a business than an employee
staying home, a sharp increase from 31 percent last year.

Helpful resources to inspire workplace wellness

No matter the size of the business, Staples
Advantage
, Staples.com
and Staples stores offer products and tips to keep businesses of all
sizes running smoothly during flu season. From simple items, such as
hand sanitizers, to large-scale industrial cleaning products, Staples
has the solutions to keep workers healthy and productive.

Visit https://www.slideshare.net/secret/30DpSisUCqKl13
to learn about common misconceptions about the flu to help you stay
protected during the flu season.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Redshift Research among 1500 U.S. Office
workers. All were working full-time and spend at least 50 percent of
their time working in an office environment. 704 were managers and the
remaining 796 were general office workers. Results of any sample are
subject to sampling variation.

About Staples

Staples makes it easy to make more happen with more products and more
ways to shop. Through its world-class retail, online and delivery
capabilities, Staples lets customers shop however and whenever they
want, whether it’s in-store, online, on mobile devices, or through the
company’s innovative buy online, pick-up in store option. Staples offers
more products than ever, such as technology, facilities and breakroom
supplies, furniture, safety supplies, medical supplies, and Copy and
Print services. Headquartered outside of Boston, Staples operates
throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New
Zealand. More information about Staples (SPLS) is available at www.staples.com.

About Staples Advantage

Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.
(Nasdaq: SPLS), serves organizations of 10 or more employees up to the
Fortune 1000, helping them make more happen with more products, greater
cost savings and improved ordering efficiencies. Staples Advantage
provides its customers, including global businesses, local, state and
federal government, healthcare organizations and educational
institutions, with a one source solution featuring comprehensive
products and services like office supplies, technology, printing,
promotional products, furniture and facility supplies, along with a
customized level of account support and best-in-class customer service.
More information is available at www.staplesadvantage.com.

Contacts

Staples, Inc.
Shweta Agarwal, 508-253-8249
shweta.agarwal@staples.com

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