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Despite Drop in Number of Employees Going to Work Sick, 60 Percent Still Show Up with the Flu  

Staples Annual Flu Survey Reveals More Managers Encouraging Sick Employees to Stay Home

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 15, 2014-- For the first time in five years, the number of employees that said they go to work with flu has dropped to 60 percent, after four straight years of increases, according to the fifth annual Flu Season Survey from Staples, a leading provider of supplies that help keep offices healthy.

While this is a drop from last year, many employees still feel they can’t take a sick day. Despite 88 percent of managers encouraging sick employees to stay at home, 40 percent feel there is too much going on at work to stay away, and 31 percent show up sick because they think their boss appreciates it. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the drop in employees going to work sick:

  • Sick employees coming into work considered worse for office productivity than a security breach – Both employees and employers recognize the detrimental impact that coming to work sick has on workplace productivity. In fact, more than one-quarter of employees (27 percent) think that coming to work sick is worse for office productivity than a security breach, natural disaster or product/service issue.
  • Presenteeism recognized as a bigger problem than absenteeism – More respondents think that presenteeism, i.e., people going into the office when sick but not fully functioning, is a bigger problem than people being absent from work due to illness. This isn’t surprising considering that more than a third of respondents (36 percent) say that their personal productivity is less than 50 percent of their usual level when they show up with the flu.
  • Employees are taking charge of their own health and wellness –The survey shows that even as the availability of flu vaccinations in the workplace is on the rise, employees are taking more responsibility for their personal health during flu season. In fact, 70 percent of respondents have some involvement in cleaning their work spaces. This provides employers with the opportunity to promote workplace wellness in simple, inexpensive ways, such as providing cleaning supplies so employees can keep their personal workspace clean.
  • Recent virus outbreaks are affecting behavior –Recent virus outbreaks are affecting behavior, as the majority of employees (53 percent) said they will take extra precautions to protect themselves against the flu and other illness this winter.

“While we are encouraged that for the first time in five years the number of sick employees coming into work has dropped, 60 percent is still a significant number,” said Chris Correnti, Vice President of Staples Facility Solutions at Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples. “Clearly there is still much work to be done. Recent outbreaks such as Enterovirus in the U.S. underscore the importance of fostering a culture of workplace wellness. ”


About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Redshift Research among 1500 U.S. Office workers. All were working full-time and spend at least 50 percent of their time working in an office environment. Seven hundred four were managers and the remaining 796 were general office workers. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation.

About Staples

Staples makes it easy to make more happen with more products and more ways to shop. Through its world-class retail, online and delivery capabilities, Staples lets customers shop however and whenever they want, whether it’s in-store, online, on mobile devices, or through the company’s innovative buy online, pick-up in store option. Staples offers more products than ever, such as technology, facilities and breakroom supplies, furniture, safety supplies, medical supplies, and Copy and Print services. Headquartered outside of Boston, Staples operates throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. More information about Staples (SPLS) is available at

About Staples Advantage

Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), serves organizations of 20 or more employees up to the Fortune 1000, helping them make more happen with more products, greater cost savings and improved ordering efficiencies. Staples Advantage provides its customers, including global businesses, local, state and federal government, healthcare organizations and educational institutions, with a one source solution featuring comprehensive products and services like office supplies, technology, printing, promotional products, furniture and facility supplies, along with a customized level of account support and best-in-class customer service. More information is available at

Source: Staples

Shweta Agarwal, 508-253-8249

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