Is ‘Presenteeism’ an issue for your business?

Management & Growth, News,

A new report by consultancy firm Deloitte and mental health charity Mind, has shown that poor mental health in the workplace is costing UK employers. ‘Presenteeism’, where employees are coming in to work, despite feeling unwell, means they are less productive as a result. They’re also spreading their germs amongst everyone else!

The overall number of sick days taken per employee fell from 5.3 to 4.4 days between 2008 and 2018. Within this, the amount of time lost to mental health conditions increased, reaching 17.5 million. The report shows that in 2018, 41.7% of employees still went to work when they felt unwell.

According to Deloittes, attending work and being unproductive (Presenteeism) is more costly to the employer than if the employee stayed away.

  1. Continued Presenteesim can worsen the employee’s condition, extending it well beyond the period they would have originally been unwell for.
  2. The illness can spread amongst their team members, causing more problems for the business.

What can an employer to to reduce Presenteeism?

  1. Firstly, it’s important to promote an open and honest culture, to ensure that employees feel able to be off and unwell, without fee of reprisal. It’s not unusual for employees to feel that they won’t be believed when they say they’re unwell, or that they will be criticised for not attending.
  2. Return to work interviews after a period of sickness are one way to ensure the employee is fully recovered. You can take the opportunity to check that they are able to return to a full day and full workload. It’s important though that these conversations are conducted as a meeting rather than an interrogation or disciplinary hearing.
  3. Pressure of work can also be a justification for presenteeism. Employees can fear returning to a backlog of work, preferring to keep at least some of it moving if they can, whilst technically unwell. A pre-arranged plan to ensure at least some form of cover will reduce the likelihood of this taking place. It will also enable the business to continue if the employee is off for an extended period.

What else can you do?

The best way to ensure your culture supports your team, and avoid issues like presenteeism arising is to have a qualified and experienced HR advisor onside. They can guide your business as it grows to prevent any such issues. These can become amplified as a team expands.

If you’d like an introduction to someone who can support you, we can make an introduction, just get in touch.


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