Employees who come to work with cold and flu symptoms cited workplace pressures and presenteeism as key reasons why they make the haul into work feeling under the weather, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

About three-quarters (72%) of workers go to work when they are sick, while 55% reported they feel guilty if they call in sick. Employees also believed the workplace is where they picked up their cold or flu.

For example, (53%) said "they have gotten sick from a co-worker who came to the office sick," while 12% said "they picked up a bug from someone who was sick on public transportation going to or from work."

"It’s important for employees to take care of their health and the health of others by staying at home if they aren’t feeling well," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

"Even if workers feel pressure to be at the office, they should talk to their managers about staying home if they are sick, or ask about other options such as working remotely. Most employers are flexible and understand that employees are more productive if they are feeling their best," she adds.

The survey also found that 19% employees report their companies offered flu shots at the office, while 38% noted they were proactive and receive a flu shot in 2010.  The survey was conducted from Nov. 15 to Dec. 2, 2010 and involved more than 3,700 workers.

To combat the spreading of gems, employees said they did the following:

I wash my hands often (78%).

I carry hand sanitizer with me and use it often (32%).  

I regularly clean my keyboard, phone, desk, etc. (30%).

I avoid shaking hands with people (15%).

I skip meetings where I know people are sick (3%).

According to Haefner, workers who are trying to stay healthy during the cold and flu season should also do the following: 

Don’t share your germs: If you are sick, do your best to keep your germs away from others by staying home. If you absolutely must come into the office, try to work in a conference room or away from others so you don’t spread your sickness. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

Keep it balanced: With many workers facing heavier workloads and longer hours, some may be feeling maxed out. Be sure to manage your stress and stay healthy by taking a break during the day, exercising or even practicing yoga or meditation.

Talk it out: If you are concerned about taking days off work when you are ill, talk to your manager or HR department so that you have a clear understanding on how your sick days can be used. Offer to telecommute, delegate or call-in if necessary, but ensure you get as much rest as possible so you are back on your feet.

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