More than three-quarters of workers suffering from cold or flu turn up to work, according to results from a survey conducted by Newspoll and commissioned by Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract.
Reversing the stereotype of absenteeism, the survey indicated that 77% of survey participants would still go to work if ill, putting other staff at risk.
“By going into work you run the risk of infecting colleagues and continuing the cycle,” said naturopath Lisa Guy. “Studies have shown that the cost of presenteeism ends up being four times the cost of absenteeism, so employers have sound economic reasons to ensure a healthy workplace at all times.”
Of those who turn up when sick:
- Half feel guilty about taking time off or don’t want to let their colleagues down.
- A quarter say they feel pressured to by the boss; the figure is one in three for workers in the 18-34 age bracket.
- Around 40% said if they don’t turn up, they don’t get paid.
The concept of ‘soldiering on’ was “noble, but misguided,” Guy added. “When you are ill, you simply can’t produce the quantity or quality of work you would normally.”
It also appeared that younger workers and those in casual positions felt pressure to turn up. “Don’t be compelled to front when sick, don’t be bullied into working,” said Guy.
She emphasised the importance of good health and a strong immunity system. “Among those surveyed six out of 10 were concerned about picking up colds and flu from public places, but naturally strengthening your immunity to fight infection is a positive first step.”
Immune boosting nutrients include vitamins A and C, zinc, selenium and antioxidants. Guy also recommended herbs and foods such as garlic, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, chilli, cayenne pepper, lemon, thyme and sage.
Influenza hospitalises 15,000 Australians and claims the lives of around 2,500 people each year.