It’s that time of the year, when the weather turns cooler, the holidays are fast approaching … and cold and flu season is in full swing. Although most would consider staying in bed all day the best remedy to recover from an illness, don’t be surprised if your co-worker shows up to the office coughing and sneezing. According to a new CareerBuilder.co.uk survey, 62 per cent of British employees will still go into the office despite feeling ill due to workplace pressures.
Workplace stress is a common problem, and it can wreak havoc on a worker’s physical and mental wellbeing. Half of workers from the survey revealed that their stress levels at work have significantly increased over the last six months. Yet because of the stress caused by increasingly heavy workloads, employees are too afraid to take time off of work, even when they’re ill.
Workers surveyed said that taking time off would only make matters worse – their email inbox would fill up and their to-do list would just grow, thereby increasing stress levels further.
Even those workers who take the day off to recover still often end up doing work anyways. Twenty-seven per cent of employees actually logged on to their emails whilst sick, even though they had told their employer they were unwell for at least part of the day.
Taking control of your health
Janet Prosper, HR Director of CareerBuilder UK, says that it’s important to take the correct amount of time to recover from an illness, rather than trying to work in the interim, regardless of whether or not you work in a high-pressure environment. “Your employer has a duty of care to ensure that you are fit enough to be in the workplace, and this standard must be upheld.”
So, what can you do to improve both your physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace? Here are some tips:
- Take precautions. The best way to avoid coming to work whilst ill is to avoid falling ill in the first place. Wash your hands with soap and warm water when you arrive at the office and throughout the day, use paper towels to open doors, and keep your distance from your sick co-workers.
- Get physical. Regular exercise is proven to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health. Even with a busy work schedule, it’s important to make time for physical activity, whether that’s attending an early morning exercise class to give you energy for the day ahead or going for a quick jog after work to clear your mind.
- Take breaks. When the work is piling up on your desk, the last thing you may want to do is take a break, but it could actually prove beneficial. Leaving your office for lunch or taking a 10 minute walk in the afternoon can help relieve stress and improve productivity.
- Give yourself a break. Whilst it is easier said than done, try not to put so much pressure on yourself. If you push yourself too hard, you’ll end up suffering from burnout, which will ultimately cause your work to suffer.
- Talk to someone. Whether you speak to a colleague or your boss, it’s important to develop good relationships with co-workers as they can help and offer support in stressful situations.
- Recognise the warning signs. The symptoms of stress are vast and can range from feeling anxious and a loss of appetite to sleeping problems. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor right away.
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