How to Cut Down on Sickness in the Workplace

Sickness in the workplace costs American employers a whopping $225.8 Billion a year. Employees who come into the office when sick (known as “presenteeism”) account for nearly two-thirds of the total costs of worker illness. About 75 percent of workers who do call in sick have a minor illness like a cold, flu, stomach upset, allergies, or headache. Stress was the next most common “illness” requiring time away from the desk. A small percentage of people suffer from disruptive long-term conditions like arthritis or asthma that may flare up on a bad day. Knowing how to prevent and effectively deal with these common causes of absenteeism can increase your workplace productivity, reduce the cost of doing business, and boost employee morale.


Make Flu Prevention A Priority

The flu alone costs the US economy $87 billion in lost productivity a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but only about half of Americans get vaccinated. Immunization is the top way to prevent the flu, and is especially crucial for people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, asthmatics, diabetics, and seniors. Hosting a free flu vaccination clinic in the workplace makes it easier for employees to protect themselves. You can even offer free or reduced-cost flu shots for the whole family, as many employees take off work to care for a sick child. In promoting the clinic, be sure management emphasizes the message: “Stay home if you’re sick.”


Allow Flexible Work-From-Home Arrangements

If possible, allowing employees to work from home can reduce sickness and improve productivity. Workers for a Chinese travel site found that people working from home completed 13.5 percent more calls than office staff. That means each week, each telecommuting employee produced an extra day of work! The turnover was 50 percent less, which exceeded researcher expectations. On top of the productivity and morale boost, management saved $1,900 per employee in furniture and space over the course of nine months. According to Harvard Business Professor Nicholas Bloom, one-third of the productivity increase was related to having a quieter environment. “At home, people don’t experience what we call the ‘cake in the break room’ effect. Offices are actually incredibly distracting places.” The other two-thirds is related to working more hours. “They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day. They had no commute. They didn’t run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted,” he explained.


Quarantine with Privacy Pods

The word “quarantine” sounds harsh, but there is nothing wrong with sequestering away a sick worker who is battling the flu or another type of contagious sickness. Your employees may need the money and feel well enough to work long before a medical doctor would advise it. Studies have shown 1 in 4 workers come to the office sick. These workers will likely appreciate the quiet, distraction-free personal space to complete their work as they recover.


Workers who are offered flexible work spaces are less stressed than those crammed into distracting open concept layouts or cubicles. The reduction of stress is just another way you can help people improve their immune systems. In fact, research shows that employees in open spaces take over 62% more sick days.


Protect your herd and increase employee satisfaction with the use of privacy pods by Emagispace. Each individual pod features an ultra-quiet exhaust fan and personal ventilation system, soundproofing, indirect LED lighting, a 120V outlet and two USB ports, and an adjustable work surface. The pod is on casters to move around the office as you see fit.


Contact Emagispace to learn more about privacy pod pricing and delivery.



  1. Harvard Business Review – To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work From Home,
  2. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health – Sickness absence associated with shared and open-plan offices–a national cross sectional questionnaire survey,
  3. UPI – 1 in 4 US Employees Go To Work Sick,
  4. CDC Foundation – Healthy Workforce Infographic,