New research has highlighted a growing trend of workers informing their boss they are taking a day off sick by email or text message, rather than over the phone.

Almost four out of ten (38 per cent) British employees have done this, according to a survey of 2,000 business professionals conducted for Intercity Telecom.

Furthermore, a fifth of these people admitted they were not genuinely unwell and simply felt too guilty to speak to their manager in person.

Men were found to be the worst offenders in this area, with a quarter (25 per cent) of male staff members who have emailed or texted in sick confessing that they were faking.

Intercity Telecom commissioned the research in order to find out how work colleagues are making contact with one another now that there are so many different communication methods available.

The study produced a number of results that could interest companies trying to improve workforce management, such as the finding that nearly half (47 per cent) of workers email someone every day with whom they have never actually spoken.

Forty-one per cent of respondents said they would use a text message or email to deliver bad news, while 71 per cent admitted they would do so if they expected to receive an angry response.

The research indicated that having multiple forms of communication may not be conducive to operational efficiency, with over two-thirds (69 per cent) of employees saying they have lost track of a conversation taking place across different channels.

Underlining the importance of the issue, Andrew Jackson, group chief executive of Intercity Telecom, said: "Choosing the right way to communicate can make all the difference to the working relationships that we build and helps avoid being misunderstood."

Cass Business School this week released a report indicating that poor communication about employee benefits is costing UK businesses a total of £2.7 billion a year in staff turnover and sickness absence expenses