Being under the weather isn't keeping workers out of the office, new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam shows.

While 82% of human resources managers interviewed said their company encourages staff to stay home when they're sick, 85% of employees have gone to work anyway.

sick-at-workBut coworkers are not pleased: 42% of employees surveyed said their biggest pet peeve during cold and flu season is when someone comes in sick.

Another 42% are most annoyed when those around them don't cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing.

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

  • Encourages strongly—53%
  • Encourages somewhat—29%
  • Neither encourages nor discourages—17%
  • Discourages somewhat—1%
  • Discourages strongly—0%

In a separate survey, more than 500 office workers were asked, "Have you ever gone to work when sick?"  Eighty-five percent said yes, while 15% said no.

When workers were asked why they went to work sick, 36% said they felt well enough to do their jobs; another 32% didn't want to fall behind on assignments.

"Even if you're feeling up to the task of working, it's best to stay home when you have a cold or the flu," says Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam.

"Being out for a day or two can help the recovery process and prevent the spreading of germs to colleagues.

"Managers should set an example by steering clear of the office while sick and encourage their teams to do the same."


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 U.S. companies with 20 or more employees, and more than 500 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.