15 September 2019
Most workers come to work even when they have the flu, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ
Most workers come to work even when they have the flu, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ

You’ll never guess how you got the flu

Here is why you could get the flu simply by coming to work.

Apparently, nine in 10 Hong Kong employees work while sick with the flu, which means someone in the next cubicle is a potential source of infection.

But not if they can help it.

In the past 12 months, four in 10 sick workers said they were made to come to work by their bosses, according to a survey by financial services giant AIA.

Not a healthy thing, but wait till you hear why they were down with the bug in the first place.

More than half blamed “too much work” and more than one-third said they were toughing it out because they had no time to see the doctor.

So, there is your reason these people get sick, especially during the cold months such as this coming winter — they’re passing the bug to one another.

So much for our “can-do” and “work first” spirit.

Of course, we are no Superman but we’re working beyond our human limitations.

The survey shows that 82 percent of the respondents did take sick leave in the past year but we can assume they plunged right back in, not having fully recovered.

The vast majority of the respondents were never away more than five days for health reasons or another.

Their average sick leave was 3.3 days, which works out to about once every 100 days out of a year.

That’s a healthy clip but even the best machines break down once in a while.

About 12 percent of employees who took sick leave in the past year admitted to malingering.

Family reasons were the most common excuse (8 percent), followed by birthdays (psychologically interesting because they feel entitled to a day off on their special day).

Another reason, which understandably was underreported, was “job interview”.

Hand on heart, how many times have you called in sick because of a job interview?

In my case, many (which is every time).

Because once you decide to leave your employer, you lose the motivation to be the model employee you always thought you were.

A sick day sometimes fills the need to be reassured about our future in the company.

AIA commissioned market research firm GfK Hong Kong to interview 1,004 adults between 18 and 59 in August.

Most other findings are consistent with how much employees want group health protection, especially for critical illnesses.

Only 1 percent of small and medium-sized firms provided such coverage.

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EJ Insight writer