Managing Presenteeism in the Workplace

Posted on

February 16th, 2017


shutterstock_252811903 - CopyMany employers focus absence management efforts on common issues that cause absences or on individuals with chronic attendance problems. Not many, however, address an issue that has the potential to be a much bigger problem than absenteeism: presenteeism. Presenteeism occurs when employees continue to come into work despite being ill.

Consequences of Presenteeism

Traditional-minded managers may view presenteeism as a somewhat positive character trait. It shows the employee is dedicated to their work. However, employees who work while ill pose risks that outweigh the benefits of them not taking a sick day. For starters, a sick employee is not 100 percent focused on the job at hand. This means they are more prone to making errors that can be costly to fix.
Another issue is the loss of productivity due to presenteeism is much more than if the employee had called out sick to recover. This is because the employee is likely to stay ill for longer when not getting adequate rest. If the employee is only able to give 50 percent of their attention to their job for a week while recovering rather than taking one sick day, much more productivity is lost.
Additional negative effects of presenteeism include:

  • A reduction in workplace morale
  • Higher levels of absenteeism for stress-related issues
  • An increase in mental health problems among employees

How to Manage Presenteeism

Establishing guidelines for managing presenteeism can save companies money both in the short-term and long-term. It can also improve employee morale, productivity, and commitment. Below are some tips for reducing presenteeism in the workplace.

  1. Clarify expectations. Real or perceived pressure to come into work even when ill contributes to presenteeism. Companies need to update their policies and train managers to make it clear that employees need to stay home when ill for a proper recovery.
  2. Recognize common presenteeism causes. A prevalent cause of presenteeism is high workloads. Many employees feel obligated to come into work while ill to manage their amount of work. They feel guilty forcing other coworkers to take on some of their responsibilities or worry about meeting deadlines.
  3. Know the symptoms. An increase in stress-related absences or mental health issues among staff are indicators of a presenteeism problem. Reducing the stigma or addressing mental health problems can also help employees get the help they need. Consider training seminars or hosting awareness programs to provide managers with a better understanding of the effects of wellbeing in the workplace.

Proper metrics are vital to catching a potential presenteeism issue before it becomes a full-scale, company-wide problem. Actec understands your company needs to be able to track and quantify absence data in a meaningful way. To learn more about our Absence Reporting Program, contact us.