Feeling Sick This Cold and Flu Season? Stay at Home, Say Coworkers

Survey: More Than Eight in 10 Canadian Employees Have Gone to the Office When Ill

Toronto, ON -- Being under the weather isn’t keeping workers out of the office, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam shows. While 74 per cent of human resources (HR) managers interviewed said their company encourages staff to stay home when they’re sick, 87 per cent of employees have gone to the office anyway. Thirty-two per cent of those who showed up to work while ill did so because they felt well enough to do their jobs; another 32 per cent said they didn’t want to fall behind on assignments.

Workers also identified their biggest pet peeves during cold and flu season, with 42 per cent irked by those around them who don’t cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing, followed closely by 40 per cent who are most annoyed when someone comes in sick.

More than 300 Canadian HR managers were asked, “Does your company encourage or discourage workers to stay home when they are sick?” Their responses:

Encourages strongly


Encourages somewhat


Neither encourages nor discourages


Discourages somewhat


Discourages strongly




*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

In a separate survey, more than 300 Canadian office workers asked, “Have you ever gone to work when sick?” Their responses:







Workers who have gone to work when sick were also asked, “What is the primary reason you went to work when sick?” Their responses:

You felt well enough to work


Too much work -- you didn’t want to fall behind


Your manager would frown upon you not coming in


You don’t get any sick days


You want to save sick time in case you need it later






*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

“Although you may be feeling up to going in, staying home from work when you have cold or flu symptoms is not only better for your own well-being, but also shows consideration for your colleagues,” said Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for OfficeTeam. “If available, take advantage of the opportunity to work remotely, and if you are unsure, discuss your options with your manager prior to going in. Doing your part to prevent spreading your illness will help keep the workplace healthy and productive.”

“Managers must set a precedent by avoiding the office when they’re under the weather, and encourage their employees to follow suit,” added Vasilopoulos.


82% of HR managers say their companies encourage workers to stay home when sick.

50% Encourage strongly
24% Encourage somewhat
27% Neither encourage nor discourage
0% Discourage somewhat
0% Discourage strongly

87% of workers admit they've gone to work when sick.

Why employees went to work sick:

32% Felt well enough to work
32% Too much work/didn't want to fall behind
13% Manager would frown upon not coming in
11% Don't get any sick days
7% Other
6% Want to save sick time in case it’s needed later

The most annoying behavior by coworkers during cold and flu season, according to employees:

42% Not covering their mouth when sneezing or coughing
40% Going to work when sick
16% Not washing hands
2% None of these behaviors

Source: OfficeTeam surveys of more than 300 human resources managers and more than 300 workers in Canada.

Responses may not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

© 2016 OfficeTeam. A Robert Half Company.

OfficeTeam offers three tips for being a considerate coworker during cold and flu season:

Check your options. If you’re feeling well enough to complete projects but are still contagious, find out if you can work from home. If telecommuting is not an option or you’re feeling too ill to tackle assignments, work with your manager to identify team members or hire temporary professionals to help during your absence.

Be a good neighbour. If you absolutely must be at work due to a major deadline or meeting, avoid getting too close to others, wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. Try to leave the office after the critical task is completed.

Offer to fill in for coworkers when they’re out sick. It’s likely they’ll return the favour the next time you need help.

About the Research: The surveys of HR managers and workers were developed by OfficeTeam. They were conducted by independent research firms and include responses from more than 300 HR managers at Canadian companies with 20 or more employees, and more than 300 Canadian workers 18 years or older and employed in office environments.

OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, is the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide. For more information, including job search services, visit https//roberthalf.ca/officeteam.

Follow @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter and the OfficeTeam Take Note® blog at roberthalf.com/officeteam/blog for career and management advice.


For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]