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87% say work makes them sick

Presenteeism was found to be rife, with 46% saying they still go into work despite being ill

Most people believe their workplace makes them ill, according to research from health and wellbeing insurance provider Benenden.

The survey of 2,000 employed people found that 87% of employees blame their workplace for making them ill, with only a quarter (25%) saying they felt healthy at work on a regular basis. In addition, 50% of those surveyed said they felt depressed at work, with just 40% saying they are happy in their place of work.

Presenteeism, the act of coming into work while unwell, was found to be rife, with 46% saying they still go into work despite being ill.

Once in work, those surveyed confessed to having regular health issues, with backache (84%) eye strain (42%) and recurrent migraines (27%) all being part of working life. In addition, just under half (44%) of respondents reported being regularly stressed at work, with a further 91% feeling tired several times a week at their desk. Nearly two-thirds of workers (58%) said that work worries keep them awake at night.

Men generally felt healthier at work than women, a 29% to 20% comparison. Women were 10% more likely to state that they picked up bugs and illnesses at work, with 39% saying so compared to 29% of men. Women were also more prone to worrying about work than their male counterparts: 64% to 52%.

Helen Smith, group business development director at Benenden, warned of the dangers of presenteeism.

“Our modern working lifestyle often attracts much criticism and our research appears to back this up,” she said. “Even when we’re ill we persist in dragging ourselves into the workplace, risking spreading infection to our colleagues or making our own condition worse.

“Employers should take steps to promote staff wellbeing in the workplace. We spend so much of our time at work that it should be a place where we feel happy and healthy.”