What is Presenteeism and how can it affect your business?

April 4, 2017

All employers know the disruption absenteeism can cause in the workplace, but most are unlikely to have thought about presenteeism and the fallout from it.

Presenteeism is when employees turn up to work but are unfit to do their job because of poor physical or mental health. It’s an increasing trend that is costing businesses across the world billions of dollars each year.

Absences due to sickness or injury cost New Zealand businesses $1.45 billion a year, yet data from Australia suggests that the price of presenteeism is nearly four times greater - amounting to a cost of over $5 billion.

When an employee isn’t in the right frame of mind to be at work, they’re likely to be less productive, more disruptive to other staff and care less about the quality of their work. There are many reasons for presenteeism but some of the common ones include:

  • not being able to afford to take the day off, or a lack of sufficient sick leave
  • not having a work-flow plan that can accommodate absences
  • a concern about job security, or a fear of being unfairly punished for being absent
  • having a heavy workload that could leave the person with more work on their return.

Employees who show up unfit for work due to sickness or injury are easy to spot. Yet, those suffering from poor mental health – including stress, anxiety, grief, or general life pressures – are much harder to recognise. Due to stigma, employees are also less likely to disclose if they are struggling with mental health issues.

Investing in the mental health of employees can go a long way to helping combat presenteeism. Options for employers include:

  • showing your staff flexibility with leave allowances.
  • regularly checking in with staff about workloads and stress levels.
  • training staff to take on other roles when needed, so they feel they can take leave without the wheels falling off.
  • boosting company morale with a morning-tea shout, fun team-building activity, or out of work social gathering
  • encouraging people to take regular breaks during their working day.

Initiatives like these will assist your staff to flourish at work and home. 

Filed under Workplace Wellness

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