Work: Many crawl into the office sick – business

One in two employees in Germany often go to work due to illness, many find it stressful to sit in front of a screen and the majority regularly work overtime. These are the main results of a study presented by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK). Another observation: four out of ten employees receive little or no feedback from their managers on their performance. TK’s chairman of the board, Jens Baas, spoke of a “disconcerting result” given the high proportion of workers appearing sick in the office or factory hall.

In collaboration with the Institute for Company Health Consulting (IFBG) in Constance, TK interviewed more than 11,000 employees of 43 companies and public institutions between 2018 and 2021. It confirms what many employees know about their daily work: colleagues go to work despite the flu, inflammation or other ailments. Women in particular exhibited this behavior, called “presenterism” in technical jargon, namely 56%, men at least 47% reported it as a common pattern. According to the study, a third of them will work despite severe symptoms.

This not only has consequences for employees as they spread diseases, explained health insurance manager Baath, but also for the company as coworkers would be infected and more errors would occur. Even the express medical advice to stay home cannot prevent the majority of patients from what they apparently consider their professional duty. Almost a third of respondents work anyway: 7.5% even “often” or “very often”, 10.5% “sometimes”, 13.5% “rarely”.

The corona pandemic has brought some improvement here, says IFBG study director Utz Niklas Walter. There is a tendency to work ill less often during the Corona period, but employees also eat less and travel less – apparently a consequence of the widespread home office, which makes it unnecessary to leave your own apartment.

The boss of TK, Baas, put the patients’ overzealousness in relation to their workload. Those who work a lot of overtime or generally have too little time for their work at work are also more likely to go to work due to illness. Despite – or because of the Corona crisis and widespread short-time working – employee overtime remains a problem. About a third of those surveyed often or always work overtime.

Respondents found long periods of time in front of the screen (56%), the posture they should adopt when working (48%) and the ambient temperature (19%) to be particularly stressful. You could possibly address such inconvenience in a detailed conversation with your manager, but that’s another issue: four in ten respondents said the boss never or rarely spoke to them about the quality of their work, only one in four often came or talked about this constantly.

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