Most small business employees go to work sick – don’t let them.

A study carried out by Staples Advantage found that 60 percent of small business employees go into work with the flu. The annual Flu Season Survey noted that this figure actually represents a drop after four years of increases in the number of workers that go to work sick. Most individuals feel that they simply cannot avoid to miss a sick day, but in actuality it would be better for productivity if they did.

The survey found that 48 percent of people feel the pressure to endure their illness through work, 40 percent of respondents believe that there is too much going on for them to miss a day and 31 percent indicated that they felt their boss would appreciate it if they showed up sick. Make sure they know that you wouldn’t.

Chris Correnti, vice president of Staples facility solutions at Staples Advantage, said in an interview with Inc. that ill workers are detrimental to the business.

“More than a third of respondents, 36 percent, say that their personal productivity is less than 50 percent of their usual level when they show up with the flu,” he told the publication. “Indicating a significant drop in productivity levels. Plus, they risk spreading their germs to other people in the office, who could then suffer the same effects.”

Develop a culture of wellness at your small business 
He went on to note that it is crucial to create a culture of good health in the company. Small business owners should encourage their employees to go home, or not come in to work at all, if they are feeling sick – in order to protect the individual, as well as the rest of the staff. It is also important to set up a remote work system, so that if someone insists on working despite their illness, they can do so from the comfort of home.

This is especially important for small businesses, where people are often in close quarters, Correnti explained to the publication. A culture of wellness will ensure that employees who get sick aren’t spreading germs to others in the office, and prevent you from having to allocate resources to cover the missed work of numerous individuals.

In order make it easier to cover missed work when employees do get sick, and can’t work from home, Jennie Wong, a business coach and founder of, wrote for the Charlotte Observer that cross-training the people in your staff is a good plan. Make sure that work guidelines for each position are accessible so that when someone calls out, another person covering the sick individual has an easier time completing the required tasks.

Also promote cleanliness in the workplace, such as cleaning surfaces that are touched often. The Staples survey found that most employees are already doing this. According to the results, 70 percent of respondents put their own health in their hands by making sure they don’t get sick. If you think implementing certain wellness policies or losing employees may still prove costly, consult a financial services expert in order lower the price of promoting health within your staff.

Recent virus outbreaks have led many people to take extra precautions in regard to ensuring their own wellness, according to the study. However, more needs to be done to make sure that sick individuals realize it is okay, and actually better for productivity, if they rest instead of work.

“While we are encouraged that for the first time in five years the number of sick employees coming into work has dropped, 60 percent is still a significant number,” Correnti said. “Clearly there is still much work to be done. Recent outbreaks such as Enterovirus in the U.S. underscore the importance of fostering a culture of workplace wellness.”