Thought / 17 Aug 2021

What is presenteeism and how to tackle it

Presenteeism. Image of a notepad with an exhausted employee asleep at his desk

Unlike the obvious signs of absenteeism, the more difficult to report presenteeism can have a huge impact on your employee’s health, not to mention your bottom line.

What exactly is presenteeism?

Presenteeism can take many forms, from employees working when they’re ill and working longer hours than they should be, to having an ‘always-on’ culture where employees feel they must respond to emails and messages outside of working hours. This can lead to employees not fully functioning whilst working – a “present but not present” effect which can cause employees to not fully perform their duties and make mistakes on the job.

How to tackle presenteeism among your employees

Taking presenteeism seriously and managing it correctly will save you money and contribute towards overall employee engagement and productivity. Here are some things to think about to tackle presenteeism:

Do your employees feel like they need to work whilst they are ill?

Whether real or imagined, pressure to work whilst being ill can have a negative impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. Make sure your employees know that they’re not expected to work whilst they are ill and should stay at home to recover.

Sometimes policies can lead to a situation whereby absenteeism is simply replaced by presenteeism. Punitive sick leave policies may discourage employees to take the time off they need for illness, so they end up turning up with very low productivity. A more flexible approach to sick leave may be the way forward – is it time to review your policies?

Hone in on the causes of presenteeism

High workloads or management styles can be a key cause of work-related stress and often, employees do not feel that they can disclose mental-health issues. It’s important that managers are appropriately trained to recognise signs of work-related stress.

Your wellbeing strategy should be effective enough to deal with physical, mental, and financial wellbeing factors. Consider training a number employees as mental health first aiders, who can be on hand to support and provide advice to employees.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.