Some 77 percent of employees report going to work while sick, according to a poll by ComPsych Corp., a provider of employee-assistance programs and other services.

Of those responding to the poll:

  • 33 percent say they work while sick because they believed their workload makes it too difficult to miss a day.
  • 26 percent said they worked while sick because it feels "risky" to take off in the current work environment.
  • 18 percent of respondents said they work while sick because they save sick days for when they need to care for kids.

"Despite one of the toughest flu seasons in recent memory, the vast majority of employees who got sick forced themselves to work this winter," says Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. "Unfortunately, the practice of working while sick — often perpetuated by corporate culture — not only results in 'presenteeism' but in the spread of illness for an even greater reduction in productivity. Employers should encourage workers to take time off when sick, which actually will increase productivity in the long term."

The survey was conducted from January 26 to February 27, 2004, receiving responses from employees of more than 700 ComPsych client companies nationwide.