Half of workers feel pressured to come to work when ill


Staff ill health

You’ve nearly made it through the week and feel like rewarding yourself with a duvet day? Think again, the more realistic picture is you’ve a horrible virus but have staggered into work regardless, rather than risk the wrath of a disbelieving boss. New research this week found that nearly half of all workers feel pressurised to come into work by their line manager when they are ill. “Under Pressure” from Adecco Retail also found that far from “shirking from  home”, a third of the 1,000 people interviewed (31 per cent) feel expected to carry on working from home even when sick.

The study also reveals a marked difference in attitudes dependent on a worker’s age, with three-quarters (78 per cent) of 16-24 year olds feeling pressured to come into work when ill compared to less than a third (30 per cent) of those over 55.  Reportedly, the pressure is greater on women: whilst just a third (36 per cent) of men feel pressurised, over half (53 per cent) of women feel they need to come in even though they are ill.

There are also massive regional differences – workers in Belfast are the toughest and most likely to go to work – nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) never take a sick day, while those in Plymouth are the least likely to come in all year – less than a third (31 per cent) never take a sick day.

Steven Kirkpatrick, Managing Director at Adecco Retail said: “With almost half of us feeling pressurised to come into work when ill, there are millions of workers at the office when they should really be at home.  We found that ill workers are much less productive (most workers (61 per cent) said they were up to 50 per cent less productive). We advise ill workers to stay at home and suggest employers, for the good of their whole team, encourage those with illness to rest and recuperate.”

Worryingly, bad management is causing stress at work for half (47 per cent) of all workers, and long hours are causing work place stress for over a third (37 per cent) of us. Bullying from colleagues affects one in five workers (19 per cent). Four in ten (42 per cent) said an overly heavy workload was affecting their well-being at work.

Said Kirkpatrick: “Stress at work is also something employers need to be aware of.  Long hours, bullying and bad management are causing stress for large numbers of British workers. This in turn leads to days off. In order to keep the financial implications of sick days down to a minimum, employers need to address these issues head on to ensure an engaged and happy workforce”.

The report also looks at measures employers can take to help cut down on sick days. To stop us throwing sickies, over a third (38 per cent) said being able to do flexitime would stop them pulling a sickie, and another third (37 per cent) said being able to work from home would stop them being off ill.  Four in ten (42 per cent) would like flexible working to cut down sick days. Over half (52 per cent) feel employees should be rewarded for not taking time off sick.

The research also revealed:

  • Half of us (49 per cent) never take a day of sickness. One in five of us (20 per cent) takes one or two days, and 15 per cent takes three or four.
  • Men are more likely than women to come in to work – 54 per cent of men never take a sick day, compared to 45 per cent of women.
  • Older workers are more likely to come in too. Just over a third of 16-24 never take a sick day compared to 59 per cent of over 55s year olds.
  • Colds and flu is the biggest reason for keeping us off work – affecting 57 per cent of those who have taken a sick day over the past year.