Study shows the flu decreases workplace productivity

Nov. 19, 2019

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans who contract the flu call out sick from work or school and more than a third (35%) missed more than a week last year, reducing productivity all over the country, according to a new consumer report, “Influenza and the Community,” conducted by Stericycle, Inc.

Furthermore, nearly three in five (58%) Americans worry about catching the flu this season, but more are taking preventative measures. In 2018, 77% of Americans said they took preventative measures to prevent contracting the flu, such as washing their hands frequently, getting vaccinated or wearing a surgical mask in public, while this year 89% percent of Americans said the same.

Just over half (55%) of Americans got a flu shot last year, but this year 61% of Americans have already gotten or plan to get a flu shot, with the majority (31%) planning to get a flu shot in November. Additionally, Americans are taking action to prevent their loved ones from getting the flu – 68% percent of parents, or caretakers of an elderly parent, plan to have their children or parents receive the flu shot.

“The Influenza and the Community Survey reveals that while the majority of Americans are still concerned about catching the flu, more people are taking action to keep themselves healthy,” said Cindy Miller, Chief Executive Officer at Stericycle. “The height of flu season is expected to occur between December and February, so it’s critical that Americans continue to be diligent in protecting themselves and the vulnerable communities around them from contracting the disease. With this uptick in vaccinations, healthcare providers should also revisit proper sharps handling, disposal methods and OSHA compliance to protect their business, staff and patients from injury and contraction, as well as reduce further spread of the flu.”

Americans’ increase in preventative measures against the flu may be related to their concerns around contracting the disease – one third (33%) are most concerned about feeling ill, one quarter (26%) are most concerned about giving the flu to a child or vulnerable family member, one in six (16%) are most worried about missing work/pay and nearly one in 10 (8%) are worried about death.

Additional findings from the survey include:

·        Women (73%) and men (75%) are equally likely to call out of work or school after contracting the flu, but men are more likely to be sick for a longer time

·         More than a third (35%) of Americans who caught the flu missed between four to six days of work

·         Men (42%) are much more likely than women (26%) to have missed four to six days of work or school

·         Nearly three in five (57%) Americans who caught the flu missed one to three days of work or school

·         Women (67%) are more likely than men (46%) to have missed one to three days

The majority (47%) of Americans will receive the flu shot at a doctor’s office.

·         This is compared to Americans who will receive the flu shot at a pharmacy (34%), at their workplace (13%) or local hospital clinic (4%)

·         More women (14%) than men (10%) will receive their shot at work, while more men (38%) than women (31%) will receive their shot at a pharmacy

·         Millennials (15%) are the most likely to get their flu shot at their workplace, compared to Gen Zs (11%) or Baby Boomers (7%)

Americans view workplaces that offer flu shots more positively.

·         Less than half (42%) of workplaces offer the flu shot as a health-related employee benefit

·         While just 13% receive the shot at their place of work, the majority (67%) of those who do think more positively about their company

·         Of those who receive a flu shot outside of their workplace, nearly two thirds (64%) agree they would think more positively of their employer if they offered flu shots as an employee benefit

·         Nearly three in five (58%) Americans would be more likely to work for an employer if they offered the chance to get a flu shot while at work

Education is still needed to help combat the spread of the flu.

·         Nearly half of Americans (49%) say the best way to prevent the spread of the flu is by washing hands with soap and water, followed by getting the flu shot (42%) and using a liquid hand sanitizer (7%)

·         More than half (55%) of Americans do not avoid shaking people’s hands during flu season

·         Significantly more women (49%) than men (36%) do avoid shaking people’s hands during flu season

·         More than a quarter (29%) did not know that proper medical waste disposal plays a key role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases like the flu

Stericycle has the report