What is 'presenteeism' and how is it affecting business?

Peninsula Team

September 04 2014

Presenteeism is the practice of coming in to work when you should not be there because they are ill and can be basically defined as the lack of performance in present employees. Many employers are aware of the dangers that absenteeism present to business but the issue of presenteeism is being brought to light as a recent report by the CIPD found that 93% of employers saw an increase in ill employees coming in to work. There are many different reasons why employees are still attending work when they are under the weather and one of the main reasons is down to worries over job security. During periods of uncertainty within the economic climate it makes sense that employees believe that they should attend work as often as they can and reduce absence, especially as absenteeism can be used a measurement factor in redundancy situations. Other reasons for attending work whilst unwell include increasing workload pressures so employees believe they have too much work to take time off, criticism or negative attitudes from colleagues for being absent and other personal issues such as financial implications. What these ill employees and most employers are likely to not be aware of is that presenteeism causes a loss in productivity of around 10 times higher than absenteeism as ill employees do not perform at their full capability. Presenteeism also affects businesses through a lower quality of service or product, the consequence of this lower service especially where the business is one which involves customer service and a risk that if presenteeism is due to illness this can be passed to other members of the workforce with 81% of employees surveyed by an insurance group reporting that they had caught illness from colleagues. There are simple steps that businesses can take to reduce the problems that presenteeism can bring and an important one is to recognise the issue and the problems it creates within the workplace and then subsequently should make an effort to educate managers or senior employees on recognising and supporting employees with presenteeism. Businesses can also develop a workplace policy on presenteeism so that employees know where the business stands on them coming in sick, having a focus on wellbeing within the workplace and actions such as cross training and flexible working arrangements to allow employees to take time off sick as their work and skill set can be covered by others.

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