The Effects of Presenteeism

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Most businesses have employee’s that fight the urge to call in sick.

Whilst you may think that they are being a committed and exemplary employee, the reality is that they could be doing harm to your business. When your staff come into work despite being ill, this is known as presenteeism.

It is the opposite of absenteeism — when your staff don’t come into work even though they’re fine.


What Are the Negatives Regarding Presenteeism?

A recent report by CIPD and Simplyhealth revealed that presenteeism has more than tripled since 2010.

According to the report, 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had noticed presenteeism in their business over the last 12 months, compared with 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010.

These are the three core reasons why is presenteeism bad for business:

  1. If your employees come into work whilst they are ill, they won’t perform to the best of their ability. And if they don’t rest, they could increase the severity of their illness.
  2. Sick employees can spread germs to other staff members, making your workplace even more unproductive. This is most common during winter.
  3. If your staff operate heavy machinery or handle dangerous materials whilst not being fully fit, it can become a serious health & safety risk.


How to Stop Presenteeism

Telling your staff not to come into work may seem counterproductive, and even if you do encourage your employees to call in sick, they may worry that you’ll punish them if they do.

In order to avoid uncertainty and promote openness on both sides of the situation, employers should outline a clear sickness absence policy.

This should set out:

  • How and when staff should tell you they are going to be absent, for example, a phone call before 9 am
  • Whether staff need to give you evidence of their illness, such as a sick note
  • What will happen when they come back, for example, a return-to-work interview
  • The level of sick pay they will receive
  • The rules for medical appointments
  • What will happen if an employee is off sick for a prolonged length of time

How you implement the policy is also important. For example, use the return-to-work interview to ensure your employee is fit and ready to start work again.

This is a good opportunity to discuss if you will have to arrange any ongoing support to ease the employee back into the working environment.


Spread the workload

Another reason why staff insist on coming into work despite being ill is that they’re worried they’ll fall behind on their workload.

The solution is to plan ahead of time, make sure you always know what tasks your staff are working on, so you can get someone else to fill in if necessary. You can use the absent call as an opportunity to discuss with the employee if there is any outstanding work that needs following up.

In conjunction with this strategy, it also helps if you spread the workload evenly amongst staff members, this becomes beneficial to your business as the work isn’t dependent on one individual.


What Is Leaveism?

With the rise of presenteeism at the workplace in recent years, experts have labelled another trend in staff absences, titled ‘Leaveism’.

Leaveism is the practise of:

  • Employees utilising allocated time off including annual leave and flexi hours to take time off work when they are ill
  • Employees taking work home with them that cannot be completed within normal working hours
  • Employees working whilst on leave or on holiday to catch up with outstanding tasks


Finding The Right Balance

To reduce presenteeism, you need to shift from short-term thinking to long-term thinking.

While it might impact the business if a staff member is off sick for a few days, the potential negative implications if they come into work regardless and spread their illness with other employees are more severe.

With shrewd planning and communication, you can balance the needs of your business with the health and wellbeing of your staff.

To gain more information on the effects of Presenteeism at the workplace, please visit the Health Assured website. Or alternately, you can contact Health Assured at 0844 892 2493 if you have any further queries.

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