Presenteeism - A Costly Problem

Presenteeism is a bigger, and more costly, problem than you may think.

Whilst you might be glad that sickness rates in organisations are low, thinking that you’ve got a full or busy workforce, it’s actually not as good as you think. Recent data shows that 59% of employees don’t take time off when they’re sick, despite needing to.

This means that they’re heading into the workplace unwell and whilst they may technically be there physically, its highly likely that they aren’t fully there mentally. We all know that feeling unwell can be challenging, no matter what anyone is suffering from, and to head into work in those conditions means that tasks, which were once easy, can become difficult and more time-consuming. Therefore, staff aren’t being as productive as you may think, or producing a high quality of focussed work.

Why are employees working when they’re sick?

Many employees believe that nobody would believe that they're really sick (19%), they feel guilty that their colleagues might have to pick up some extra work, and they feel concerned about their boss' reaction (17%). (HR Grapevine

These reasons highlight that there seems to be stigma surrounding calling in sick for work, and that workplace culture might not be as understanding or caring as many would hope. We know that there’s unfortunately a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and sickness for this reason, but there’s also a general sense of judgement for calling in sick no matter the circumstance.

Why is presenteeism a problem?

It has a big impact on productivity and the quality of work that is produced. Even though employees are there, tasks become more challenging when they’re unwell and they can be distracted by whatever it is they’re going through. Not only that but it actually prolongs recovery, and the lower quality work continues for that bit longer. It would be better, and less costly for a business, to help employees get better and recover so that when they do come back to work, they’re fully focussed and refreshed.

Furthermore, everyone should be able to have the correct support that they need. Nobody should feel like they’re pushed to breaking point, or feel burnt-out, as that’s worse in the long run. Investing in exceptional occupational health support and adopting a healthier and more understanding culture in the workplace, will make employees feel comfortable and prevent presenteeism or absenteeism.