The growing issue of presenteeism…


There is a growing issue in the workplace that needs to be tackled… by Canada Life Group Insurance found that 93% of employees would come into work if sick.  This is having an understandable negative impact on employee productivity with 84% saying they performed worse when coming into work ill and also impacting on the health of other workers, with 82% of workers becoming ill following a colleague coming into work sick.  It seems as though employees are simply feeling too under-pressure with work to take time off, with 29% confirming this.

The support for employees’ health and well-being seems to be the main driving factor behind these figures, with 72% agreeing health and well-being was not a top priority in their organisation.  However, it is a factor that can have many negative impacts as Paul Avis, Canada Life Group’s Marketing Director commented, “Not only is presenteeism detrimental to the individual concerned, it has a negative impact on the wider business as well, encouraging the spread of illness and draining productivity.” 

As a manager, you should be addressing this concern with your employees and making them feel comfortable about coming to you with illness concerns or issues outside at work which are impacting them whilst at work.  Spend time looking into whether there seems to be a cultural trend towards presenteeism and understanding why this is.  Ensuring trust is built up is really important to make sure your employees do feel comfortable talking to you.  One-to-one meetings are very useful for exploring how employees are feeling and making sure they are not feeling too overwhelmed with their workload.

Promoting the importance of healthy living can help as what we eat and drink does not just affect our health, but our work performance too and we end up consuming a third of our day’s calories whilst at work!  As well as it being part of the manager’s role to help tackle the level of presenteeism, it is also important that HR are communicating the health and well-being policies and support available to employees; as 38% of employees responded saying they do not believe there was any workplace support available to help with sickness leave.  HR can also help managers to know what to look for when identifying signs of ill-health and stress which is impacting on employee performance.  Given the extent of the problem, if it is tackled, the benefits to individual employees, teams and organisations as a whole can be huge.

It is important that there is continued investment in employee health and well-being and that these areas are reviewed for investment for growth in organisations.  Is presenteeism an issue in your workplace?  Can you share any best practices?

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