Next week is International Infection Prevention Week. It’s always a fun time of the year with opportunities to provide education, particularly through games. In fact I came across an on-line quiz that will tell you “What Germ you are” – if of course you were a pesky pathogen. I’m happy to say I would be MRSA. As part of celebrating IIPW, next week I will be doing daily blogs sharing stories of how friends and colleagues I work with have been impacted by HAIs. There are some stories with happy endings and, well, as you can guess, some not so happy endings.
Knowing what I will be writing about next week, this week I wanted to share a survey I came across that was conducted by Canada Life looking at presenteeism. I would hazard a guess that most of us can attest to the fact that we to have gone to work despite being ill and knowing we’ll not be functioning fully. According to the Canada Life survey, 1 in 4 workers would need to be in the hospital before they would call in sick. Sound familiar to anyone? When trying to tease out why people pick presenteeism over caring for themselves the following were the primary reasons:
· People did not want to appear “weak” for not coming in over a “short- term illness”
· People were nervous of being seen as “lazy”
· People were nervous about being considered as “not dedicated”
· People were made to feel “guilty for taking time off even if ill” by coworkers and company leaders
While the survey was conducted in the UK, this trend is not limited to the UK. Results from the NSF Workplace Flu Survey showed that 98% of American workers judge their colleagues for coming into work sick……BUT it’s the minority that actually feel negative about it! In fact 67% thought those that do come in when sick are hard workers and only 57% of those surveyed said they would encourage a fellow employee to go home “if they thought they were too sick to be at work”.
I know for a fact that presenteeism is not just related to the corporate world. In my “Who’s the last man/women (girl) standing” blog I discussed a study published in JAMA Pediatrics that looked at presenteeism in healthcare workers finding the top reasons for working while sick included; concern over who would fill in for them, concern that their patients could not get by without them and a widespread belief that if they stayed home because of a cold or flu they would be perceived as being weak or unprofessional.
What does this say about us? I’ll admit, I’ve been known to come in with a cold, but that’s because I firmly believe if I can spread it to one person I instantly start to feel better. If I’m running a fever, I stay home. I also send people home, admittedly less about concerns for their health, but for the fact that I don’t want to get sick (or get the rest of the team sick)! I will even admit, upon occasion, I wonder why someone can’t just “suck it up”….
So what group are you in?