“In sickness and in health” may apply to marriage, but it’s also an increasingly common workplace vow, a new Accountemps survey reveals. Fifty-one per cent of employees admitted to going into work when feeling under the weather. Fifty-seven per cent of workers interviewed said when a colleague comes in sick, however, they worry most about being exposed to his or her illness; only 11 per cent are impressed by their coworker’s dedication.

Colleagues aren’t the only ones who wish their ailing coworkers would stay in bed. More than one-third of managers (37 per cent) encourage staff to remain at home. Just 18 per cent of respondents felt their bosses discourage them from taking time off.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with 437 Canadian workers 18 years of age or older and employed in an office environment.

Workers were asked what they tend to do when they are feeling quite sick during a work day. Their responses:

Go into work anyway 51%
Stay at home and take a sick day 31%
Try to work from home 14%
Other 4%
  100%

 Workers were also asked, “Which of the following best describes how you feel when colleagues come into work sick?” Their responses*: 

Worried about being exposed to their illness  57%
Concerned about their welfare 29%
No opinion/doesn’t affect me 15%
Impressed by their dedication 11%

* Multiple responses allowed. 

Finally, respondents were asked, “Does your manager encourage or discourage workers to stay home when they are sick?” Their responses: 

Encourages strongly 14%
Encourages moderately 23%
Neither encourages nor discourages 40%
Discourages moderately 13%
Discourages strongly 5%
Don’t know/no answer 6%
  101%*

*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding.

“Although many/some professionals perceive going to work sick as heroic, others rarely view it this way,” said Kathryn Bolt, Canadian district president of Accountemps. “It’s admirable that staff want to avoid falling behind and adding pressure on their colleagues, but they risk spreading their illness and hindering productivity by coming to work sick.”

Bolt also noted that employers should encourage staff to stay home if they are under the weather and provide tips on what employees can do to prevent the spread of illness in general.

Accountemps has more than 350 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at http://www.accountemps.com/. Follow Accountemps for workplace news at twitter.com/accountemps.