See, I’m sick! 2 in 5 people will go to work ill — just to prove it to their co-workers

NEW YORK — Three in four workers still feel an obligation to come to work when they have a cold — although 57 percent would prefer it if their sick colleagues would just stay home! A recent poll of 2,000 employed adults finds that many still feel the need to “power through,” with workplace attitudes seemingly returning to their pre-pandemic days.

Overall, 38 percent of those with co-workers make it a point to come in just to show their colleagues and boss they are genuinely unwell. Fears over co-workers seeing them as “unreliable” (42%), leaving others in the lurch (41%), and having too much to do (34%) are also reasons for not calling in sick. The study, commissioned by cough brand Bronchostop, also finds 21 percent want to show how dedicated they are, while 18 percent don’t trust others to do their work properly.

Six in 10 respondents (59%) also feel the best way to get over a cold is to carry on regardless, and 61 percent convince themselves they’re not actually that sick. However, 43 percent think it’s “selfish” when colleagues come into work sick, with coughing being the biggest annoyance. Not covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing (46%) and failing to wash their hands afterwards (36%) are also common frustrations — as is not using tissues (35%).

“In the last couple of years, the perception of the common cough or cold has changed,’’ says Farah Ali, superintendent pharmacist and spokesperson for Bronchostop, in a statement. “With more flexible working in place and a heightened focus on well-being, many feel as though colleagues who are feeling under the weather should be staying at home to rest and recuperate.’’

The study also finds that 49 percent of adults working with colleagues wouldn’t have any qualms telling a sickly co-worker they should have stayed at home. They may have good reason too, as 48 percent believe they’ve picked up a cold from a colleague in the past 12 months. However, many of those polled don’t seem to apply the same level of understanding to themselves.

During the last 12 months, the average worker has been to work an average of four times with symptoms such as cough, runny nose, headache, or sore throat. The research, carried out by OnePoll, also finds that 24 percent of those who’ve had a cold have actively tried to keep their condition a secret. Wanting to be seen as trustworthy (31%) and working in a competitive job (29%) are among the reasons why.

“This peak cough and cold season, it’s so important to look after yourself when you feel common cold symptoms such as a cough coming on and to take precautions if you do need to go into work,” Ali says. “That might be taking some appropriate medicine, keeping your distance from co-workers and remembering to wash your hands to keep germs away.”

Top 10 Gripes About Co-workers with Colds:

  1. Coughing close to you
  2. When they don’t cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing
  3. When they don’t wash their hands after they’ve coughed or sneezed
  4. When they don’t use tissues
  5. Coughing loudly all day
  6. When they don’t wash their hands regularly
  7. Sniffing
  8. When they don’t take time to clean surfaces – like their desk or keyboard
  9. When they moan
  10. The act of them coming in at all

Top 5 Tips From Farah Ali For Treating Coughs Without Powering Through:

  1. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water
  2. Have some hot drinks, with added honey and lemon, to soothe your throat (however, this is not suitable for children under 12 months)
  3. Get plenty of rest and stay at home if you’re feeling too unwell to do daily activities
  4. If you’re experiencing a continuous cough that’s proving hard to get rid of, pick up an effective cough remedy
  5. If you’re experiencing any kind of pain or high temperature, consider taking a painkiller – speak to a pharmacist if there is any concern

Report by 72Point writer Mustafa Mirreh

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