More fight illness to work: are you among them?

Increasing numbers of British employees are still going to work despite being sick, new research has shown.

Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 10:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 11:26 am
Work absenteeism: not to be sneezed at!

A third of British companies reported increasing levels of staff 'presenteeism' - workers turning up despite being sick - in the last 12 months.

The finding comes as a survey of 1,000 officer workers revealed that a third of the UK workforce does not feel comfortable about asking for time off for being sick.

One if five workers also felt uncomfortable about even asking for holiday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The unease of British workers was revealed in a survey by with a shocking 25 per cent of employees stating that they don't feel valued.

The survey also found that a third of employees don't feel comfortable asking for help, despite 15 per cent of them admitting that they're too busy at work.

Surprisingly, despite these figures, bosses were rated as one of the most-liked colleagues at work, out-ranked only by admin and reception staff.

According to Dr Jill Miller, research adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a third of companies reported an increase in the number of staff coming in ill in the last 12 months.

Dr Miller said: "Employers need to be aware of the issue of presenteeism, working while genuinely sick.

"The spreading of germs and employees working to a poorer standard is not good for business or the individual's health.

"Our research has shown that the main reason employees don't take time off because their workload is too high and they don't want colleagues to pick up their work.

"Managers should lead by example by taking their holiday and staying at home when they are sick, which creates a more supportive culture.

"Employers must make sure staff are given clear protocols and know how to book leave and who to contact when they are sick."

The poll also highlighted some of the most common irritations of office life, revealing that people not listening is the most annoying habit a colleague can adopt. This habit is a regular occurrence, with 45 per cent of offices complaining about a member of staff ignoring people.

This was followed by other peeves such as not replying to emails, meetings running too long, people not answering the phones and not washing their dishes and mugs.

The most tolerated habit was people talking to themselves, which is fortunate as almost one in five respondents admitted to being guilty of this in their place of work.

Loud typing, not taking part in tea and coffee rounds and loud music were also tolerated, albeit through gritted teeth.

Respondents also voted for the most annoying business phrases and the survey found that "blue sky thinking" was the most disliked, with over a quarter voting that they strongly disliked it.

This was followed by expressions such as "low hanging fruit", "run it up the flagpole", "paradigm shift" and "loop back".

The more acceptable phrases were "think outside the box", "it is what it is", "going forwards", "bring it to the table" and "touch base".

Catherine Bannan, HR manager at, commented: "The survey was a real eye opener and shows how important it is to engage with your staff.

"Any business that aims to operate to its best ability must put its staff first, which means creating a supportive environment in which employees feel they can take the holiday that is owed to them."