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Presenteeism is the term used to describe the issue of employees working when they are suffering from a physical or mental illness. Usually, this means coming into the office, instead of staying at home and recuperating. Presenteeism, therefore, results in many organisations facing a ‘disengaged’ or ‘absent’ workforce, as employees are not present when they are at work.
Presenteeism is one of the biggest issue’s organisations with high employee turnover are facing. It’s a key problem for businesses looking to retain and develop staff long term, as it is a direct result of an unsatisfied workforce.
Simply put, presenteeism is an issue that is prevalent in organisations that promote poor management styles and do not prioritise employee wellbeing and place it at the forefront of their company values and policies.
Ultimately, it is creating more absence. According to a new report from the CIPD and Simplyhealth, nearly two-fifths of UK businesses have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year, with heavy workloads and poor management styles to blame.
Increased presenteeism is associated with increases in common mental health conditions, as well as stress-related absence, which are among the top causes of long-term sickness. The truth is that most organisations are only committing to the basic requirements for their wellbeing initiatives, as required by the law. If organisations continue to ignore the issue the numbers will only continue to increase.
Unlike sickness absence, presenteeism is also significantly related to performance. Since an employee who comes to work sick, won’t be performing at their best and will also take longer to recover. A culture of presenteeism can be contagious, as it fosters an expectation of needing to be in the office no matter what. Therefore, in the long term, presenteeism may be more damaging to your team’s overall health, morale, and productivity.
Presenteeism is not just a cultural issue to pass on to your HR team, but reviewing your basic benefits and wellbeing offering is a good start.
Just like with any relationship, open communication is key. The biggest mistake people make when facing presenteeism is not understanding the importance of conversation. It’s important to listen to your employees and their needs – putting them first will lead to a better outcome for everyone.
Gone are the days when staff clock in at 9 am and leave at 5 pm – people are working longer hours than ever. Whether that be answering emails, taking calls, working at night or through lunch – it’s important to adopt a working environment that supports long term employee health and wellbeing, and to stop trying to achieve more with less.
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