20.6.11 Sick Aussies plague workplace

20.6.11 Sick Aussies plague workplace

The workplace has become an incubator for infection with a Newspoll survey revealing that more than three-quarters of Australians go to work when suffering from a cold or the influenza virus.

Commissioned by Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract™, the online survey of more than 1200 Australians aged 18-64, including nearly 800 workers, showed most usually succumb to at least one cold or bout of flu each year but 77% of those employed head to work regardless.

Writer and respected Sydney naturopath Lisa Guy said it may be un-Australian to stay at home when ill, but the cost of battling on at work far outweighs the price of being absent.

“The Newspoll showed that of the 77% who keep working with a cold or flu, half of them feel guilty about taking time off or don’t want to let their colleagues down. That’s noble, but misguided,” she said.

“When you are ill, you simply can’t produce the quantity or quality of work you would normally. By going into work you also run the risk of infecting colleagues and continuing the cycle.”

The survey revealed it is not just a strong work ethic causing workers to play cold and flu roulette. A quarter of Australian employees who go to work when they have a cold or flu say they feel pressured to by the boss and this figure rises to one in three for younger workers in the 18-34 age bracket. Around 40% of those who go to work crook said if they don’t turn up, they don’t get paid.

“Don’t be compelled to front when sick, don’t be bullied into working,” Lisa Guy said. “Studies have shown that the cost of presenteeism ends up being four times the cost of absenteeism, so employers have sound economic reasons to ensure a healthy workplace at all times.”

Around half the respondents (53%) felt powerless to prevent winter coughs and sneezes, even though they rated preventative measures such as regular hand-washing, avoiding infected people and eating lots of fruit and vegetables as effective ways to minimise the risk of infection.

The belief in vitamins and supplements is also strong – almost eight in 10 rate vitamins and supplements as effective in boosting immunity.

And while 84% of survey-takers said they believed having a flu shot was effective, well under half (39%) actually followed through with the jab.

The figures don’t surprise Lisa Guy, who advocates a holistic approach to preventing the winter blues.

“Among those surveyed six out of ten were concerned about picking up colds and flu from public places, but naturally strengthening your immunity to fight infection is a positive first step,” she said. “A strong functioning immune system is dependent on having a healthy, well-balanced diet containing important immune boosting nutrients such as vitamins C and A, zinc, selenium and antioxidants.

“Certain herbs and foods also have properties that support the body’s natural immune defences, including garlic, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, chilli, cayenne pepper, lemon, thyme and sage.

“A number of supplements enhance the natural properties of these wonderful herbs and superfoods through their extraction techniques, which is why Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract is unique amongst garlics.

“Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract uses an award-winning proprietary natural process, taking 20 months to complete, that converts the unstable compounds found in raw garlic to immune boosting antioxidants. The result is a supercharged immune boosting garlic without the garlic breath.”

Influenza hospitalises 15,000 Australians and claims the lives of around 2500 each year, which is why Lisa Guy urges workers to stay healthy this winter by improving their immunity and importantly, staying home to recuperate when ill.