Survey Reveals Reasons for Presenteeism

According to a new poll by LifeCare Inc., a Shelton, Conn.-based provider of specialty care services in the work/life industry, the number one reason people go to work when they are sick is their sense of obligation to co-workers. In the three consecutive years that LifeCare has conducted this poll, this is the first time this response topped the list. In the past two polls, "too risky to take time off" was the leading response.

The percentage of respondents who do not go to work when they're sick has always remained at the six or seven percent mark, significantly below the level that employers widely say they desire. "It's well known that employees who work sick are actually creating a greater risk for their co-workers and a greater risk of lost productivity for their organizations," said LifeCare CEO Peter G. Burki. "Even so, our workplace cultures don't seem to be getting the message through that taking a little time off when you're ill is not only wiser but also acceptable."

Studies have suggested that presenteeism (working but not functioning at full capacity due to illness or other personal distractions) costs U.S. businesses $150 billion or more annually in lost productivity.

Fifteen percent of poll respondents said they are too busy to stay home, even when they are sick, and 8 percent said they save their sick days for vacation time. To see the full results of the poll, conducted throughout the month of March on LifeCare's private Web site among employees of its 1,500 client organizations, visit www.lifecare.com/news/archives/poll_0408.html.

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