Presenteeism? Hmph. Is that really something to worry about?

Presenteeism is a workplace phenomenon where employees come to work despite being unwell, either physically or mentally, and therefore are not functioning at their full capacity. In other words, they are present at their workplace but are not fully productive due to their health issues or personal problems...

October 11, 2023

Presenteeism is a workplace phenomenon where employees come to work despite being unwell, either physically or mentally, and therefore are not functioning at their full capacity. In other words, they are present at their workplace but are not fully productive due to their health issues or personal problems.

This contrasts with absenteeism, where employees are absent from work, however some studies reveal it’s even more damaging. One investigation demonstrated that “losses for presentism in workplaces were between 1.9 to 5.1 times higher than the incurred costs from absenteeism”. And the fact that related costs to presentism were “more than those direct costs of health in many cases because of the decline in productivity” (Brown et al., 2011).

Presenteeism can affect a company in several ways:

·    Reduced Productivity: Employees who are not feeling their best are almost certainly to be less productive. They may struggle to concentrate, make errors, or take longer to complete tasks. This reduced productivity can lead to lower overall output and performance.

·    Increased Costs: Despite being present, employees who are not functioning at their best require more time and resources to complete their tasks. This can increase labor costs and potentially lead to the need for overtime or additional staffing.

·    Spread of Illness: When employees come to work when they are sick, they can spread illnesses to their colleagues, leading to more employees falling ill and further reducing productivity. This can create a cycle of illness in the workplace.

·    Decreased Morale: Co-workers may become frustrated or demotivated when they see their colleagues consistently working at less than 100%, which can create an unhealthy workplace culture. This can lead to decreased morale and job satisfaction.

·    Long-term Health Issues: Ignoring health problems and pushing through them can lead to long-term health issues for employees. Over time, this can result in increased absenteeism as well as higher healthcare costs for the company.

·    Impact on Team Dynamics: Presenteeism can disrupt team dynamics by introducing inconsistency in work quality and creating tension among team members who may have to compensate foran unwell colleague.

OK, so how do we reduce presenteeism?

Like absenteeism, there is no silver bullet - true employee well-being comes from a multi-faceted approach across Physical, Mental and Social health. However, like absenteeism, there are some things any organization can do virtually immediately to start making a difference, with almost no extra effort and very little cost. And that is to give your workforce the tools to improve their physical health, with the view that ANY improvement can significantly reduce presenteeism in the workplace.

When employees are physically healthier, they are less likely to come to work while ill or experience reduced productivity due to health-related issues. Here are some ways in which improved physical health can help reduce presenteeism:

·    Reduced Illness: When employees maintain a healthy lifestyle, including more regular exercise, they are less susceptible to common illnesses like colds and flu. This reduces the chances of them coming to work when sick and spreading illnesses to their colleagues.

·    Increased Energy and Stamina: Good physical health often leads to higher energy levels and better stamina. Employees who are physically fit are better equipped to handle the demands of their job, resulting in improved productivity.

·    Enhanced Immune System: A healthy lifestyle can boost the immune system, making it more effective at fighting off infections and illnesses. This means that employees with stronger immune systems are less likely to experience frequent illnesses that could lead to presenteeism.

·    Better Mental Health: Physical health and mental health are closely connected. Regular exercise, for example, can reduce stress and improve mood. Employees who are mentally healthy are less likely to experience mental health-related presenteeism.

·    Fewer Chronic Conditions: Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity can contribute to presenteeism. By improving physical health through lifestyle changes, employees may be able to prevent or manage these conditions more effectively, reducing their impact on work performance.

 

To encourage physical health improvement and reduce presenteeism, it’s recommended employers should implement wellness programs including a comprehensive fitness platform suitable for all employees. Creating a supportive environment that encourages employees to prioritize their physical health can lead to a more engaged and productive workforce, and with a diverse platform like The Fit & Wellness Hub, there’s no reason not to start immediately.

Again, we can’t force anyone to exercise, but we can give them the tools to make it as easy as possible. If we can help to reduce presenteeism by even a few percent over your entire workforce, the savings to your company will be significant. In fact, any money you spend will result in a positive ROI.

Talk to us now and see how easy it can be to offer your employees a world-class fitness platform they can use anywhere, anytime, On Demand. Give them the tools that are both effective and extremely inexpensive – in fact, you’ll make money from offering The Fit & Wellness Hub across your organization.