Employees blame their colleagues for falling ill: Survey

NHRDN - Mumbai Chapter Employees blame their colleagues for falling ill: Survey

About 65% or nearly two out of every three adult respondents in a recent survey felt that their unwell colleagues are the reason for their own coughs, cold and stomach ailments, and said that they fell ill because their sick colleagues didn’t stay at home. 

The results of the annual Fisherman’s Friend Cold and Flu survey hold significance, because up until last year, only one in six employees held their colleagues accountable for their own sickness.  The survey, although conducted in Britain, is likely to strike a chord with employees globally, for it has several familiar findings. Some of the significant ones are:

  • 65% of the full-time workers held their colleagues responsible for their bouts of sickness of cold, cough etc, up from about 17% last year.
  • One in eight felt that their colleagues were responsible for four or more times when they were themselves under the weather.
  • Three-quarters or nearly 75% of the respondents admitted to going to office, when they should have taken some time off, owing to bad health.
  • Unsurprisingly, workers in the environmental and agricultural sector were found to be most likely to hold their unwell colleagues for their own ailments, and on an average, they said they had caught an ailment from one of their colleagues at least three times. 
  • Workers in the media and internet sectors reported to have been infected only 1.22 times by a sick colleague.
  • Female workers reported being ill due to sick colleagues (71%) more often than their male counterparts (60%).

The results elicited the response that the dramatic increase in the phenomena of employees blaming their colleagues is a result of growing fears over job security. Rob Metcalfe, Spokesman, Fisherman’s Friend, said, “Making up the second part of our annual Cold and Flu Survey, our new findings come hot on the heels of data showing that concerns over job security and not wanting to let colleagues down are making workers struggle on even when ill. It’s logical, therefore, that we have also found a striking increase in workers attributing the spread of coughs and colds to each other.”

The survey shows another seemingly unexpected fallout of our work life on our health, as concerns over job security force us to pull through, even when we are physically incapable of doing so. In turn, we endanger infecting our colleagues from the same sickness, thereby encouraging a vicious cycle. It is a phenomenon observed all too well in offices around the world, wherein someone, who is down with a severe cold or viral infection turns up for work in the face of an important meeting, or an impending deadline, and inadvertently inflicts  their misery on others as well. 

This culture of defying the limitations of the human body needs to be checked in time, for a healthy and happy employee is also the most productive one. Employers and managers, take note, and do not force your team-members to pop a pill and come to work, for the risk will multiply. After all it is better to manage without one team member, rather than having half the team fall prey to a runny nose or splitting headache. Nonetheless, if you plan to pull through even during a severe bout of sickness, follow Metcalfe’s advice, “However, if we are determined to battle on regardless through bouts of cold and flu then it’s important people manage their symptoms effectively to avoid spreading illnesses further.”

Source: People Matters

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