Working culture in every business is an important factor that can directly impact the productivity of your team and ultimately the success of your company. When it comes to business productivity, employees play an incomparable role. The influence they have over colleagues, their behaviour, how actions can affect team morale, how a bad apple can sour an operation. It’s not just attitudes that play a part in this, also wellness to work and that’s what brings me to the subject of Presenteeism.

We talk about absenteeism all the time, the millions of pounds that companies lose due to staff calling in sick. But what about the staff that perhaps should stay at home but for one reason or another battle on, in order to fulfil their daily grind.

What are the actual reasons of Presenteeism?

There are ample reasons why people perhaps wouldn’t or feel they couldn’t take a day off work, such as:

  • No leave allowance left.
  • No payment for sick leave
  • End of month close out for target driven sales roles
  • Fear that unscheduled leave may affect the job security or they may be penalized by the admin department.
  • The employee is witnessing a heavy workload that can’t be managed easily in their absence.

Factors such as prolonged ill health, relationship issues, financial stress etc can all lead to employees being present, yet still absent, or at least distracted enough that their work output is affected.

The Cost of presenteeism

According to the statistics, on average, Presenteeism costs businesses £605 per person each year.

Presenteeism no doubt effects the bttom line of most companies but the scope of the negativity is much more than just financial.

Here are a few other side affects of Presenteeism.

Unhealthy Work force: Employees may think its commendable to come into the office when they should probably stay in bed and even employers may see it as a sign off dedication to the cause, but all it takes is one sickness bug and the whole office can quickly be compromised. All of a sudden, you are working with skeleton staff because half of your operation called in sickdue to one person viewing presenteeism as the only option.

Low Working Morale: What makes an employee work with more zeal and dedication in a workplace? It’s is massively due to the environment in which they work. Behaviour breeds behaviour and one unmotivated, negative employee can soon turn a positive ambience into a hive of negativity, reducing the morale and energy of other team members.

Untreated Illnesses :If team members are constantly coming to work sick,  the likelihood of getting over their illness is low. (Especially if they are suffereing from a mental health illness such as anxiety or depression) Empathy should be shown and the employer should work with the employee to ensure that they are getting the medical help they need and where possible altering work schedules.

Unhappy Work Environment: It isn’t always an external factor that leads to presenteeism. Often it can be the manifestation of things within the work environment. Lack of recognition, unrealistic work load, unpleasant office space, lack of sufficient amenities, poor leaders. There are so many factors that can alter the morale and motivation of employees and if they are spending their days wishing they were elsewhere, chances are they have lost focus on what they are there for. 

  • Adopt a more flexible working week where possible that can allow staff to take days or hours off and make them up if necessary.
  • Allow team members to take leave in case of emergency.
  • Regular interaction with the employees to track their productivity and take actions whenever needed.
  • Build a healthy happy environment. Team building events, after work socials, staff recognition awards, group brainstorming incorporating everyone from all levels of the hierarchy.
  • Adopt an open communication forum where staff can make suggestions (anonymous if necessary)
  • Involve the employees in any special training to boost their productivity and self worth.
  • Running a health checkup of your team to make sure everyone is at their optimum each day when they come to work. Company sports teams or events are also a great idea.
  • Set out a healthy working environment worksheet, detailing when it is advisable that employees stay at home. It may sound silly, but some people may feel they need this as permission to call in sick.

It’s clear that Presenteeism is one of the big issues that can directly affect your business, staff satisfaction and productivity. Whether you are the business owner or a Team Lead, it is important to recognise the signs of presenteesim and tackle them head on.