71% of people questioned said they always or sometimes gave a wide berth to co-workers displaying visible signs of illness for fear of catching their germs. Meanwhile, 42% of those surveyed went as far to say that they believed colleagues who come into work while ill are “selfish.”
The research, which involved 303 office workers from across England being surveyed, indicates high levels of anxiety about the spread of germs in the workplace. Some 72% of respondents said they were either ‘greatly’ or ‘somewhat’ concerned by germs at work, with 57% of respondents admitting they were worried about the transfer of germs from the office to their home.
Suzanne Halley, Marketing Manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional, said: It’s understandable to feel under pressure to come to work even when you’re feeling ill. But, there are real concerns about the spread of germs in the workplace, as well as from the office to home, and most people view a colleague with a bad cough or cold as an unwelcome sight at work.”
She continued: “Office workers are right to be concerned. The spread of infection can happen very quickly in an office environment, meaning that colds, flu and stomach bugs can easily be passed onto colleagues. Though they are minor, these are unpleasant illnesses that force people to take time off work, and if taken home can affect family members.”
Kimberly-Clark Professional has developed The Healthy Workplace Project*, which makes it easy for companies to reduce sickness levels among their staff by promoting the little things people can do to keep a healthy and hygienic work environment.
By emphasising the importance of ‘washing, wiping and sanitising’ , the programme helps to cut levels of absenteeism because of illness, raise employee engagement because they feel better more often, increase productivity levels and reduce the risk of people taking germs home to their families. Simple steps include installing hand sanitisers around the office, and making sanitising surface wipes widely available.
The survey results indicate that such measures would be welcomed by office workers. Two fifths of respondents admitted they would like to see cleaners in their office more frequently, while 42% said that working in a clean office environment would make them more productive.
Suzanne Halley said: “Implementing measures to keep people healthy at work isn’t difficult. Introducing the right products in the right locations, together with an employee engagement programme is one of the most effective ways to keep people healthy. High performance hand sanitisers and sanitising wipes for surfaces can kill up to 99.999% of common bacteria that cause illness within as little as 30 seconds. This significantly helps to break the cycle of illness leading to a healthier environment for people at work”.