Though it's fairly early in the flu season, it's been a highly active one, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, considered "widespread" in all 50 states. In fact, an estimated 45 million Americans have been affected by the flu bug so far.
While health officials encourage workers to stay home if their sick, many are spurning this advice and reporting to work nonetheless, creating issues for business owners, a new poll suggests.
Go to work sick to avoid falling behind
Of the people in the survey who confessed to working sick despite having the flu, roughly 45 percent said they did so because they didn't want to fall behind, according to the poll conducted by Survey Monkey on behalf of over-the-counter cough and flu medicine firm Vicks. Another top justification was not being able to afford missing work due to financial constraints.
Dave Tomasi, marketing director at Vicks, noted that the best way to avoid the spreading of germs is by staying at home. However, there are those situations where employees can't afford to miss a day at the office due to work pressures.
Barb Dehn, Vicks spokesperson, suggested that business owners who oversee their employees need to take flu season more seriously than before this year because the flu virus has mutated. In other words, because the first vaccine was meant to combat a different strain, people who have been vaccinated aren't as effectively protected from coming down with influenza. This means that if they get sick, their best medicine is to take it easy and drinking plenty of fluids.
"I recommend that sick patients get plenty of rest at home, if they can, to limit the spread of the virus," said Dehn. "As always, consult with your health care provider."
She added that in addition to encouraging workers to stay home, smart ways of avoiding the spread of flu is by wiping down surfaces at the office with disinfectant or sanitizer, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and washing hands regularly.
Vacation time pays off for workers, employers
Time away from the office – whether on sick leave or for vacation – can improve business' overall production. However, many workers leave their personal time off on the table. In 2013, employees lost 169 million days of unused vacation time, according to a report from the U.S. Travel Association.
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, noted that all work and no play makes for a bad financial plan, resulting in high stress for employees and diminished production for business owners.