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What is the biggest risk to businesses, presenteeism or absenteeism?

Presenteeism Or Absenteeism

According to the Office of National Statistics 2018 report, there was 141.4 million days lost due to sickness. This is equivalent to 4.4 days per worker, this is a decrease in sickness rates by more than a third since 1995, why? As absenteeism is not responsible for this there must be another cause, presenteeism.

Whilst most workplaces have policies and processes in place to support members of staff who are absent, and the know costs of sickness, presenteeism is harder to measure than absenteeism and more challenging to judge the effect that this is having on your business.

What Is ‘Presenteeism’

What is ‘Presenteeism’, presenteeism is used to describe the issue of employees coming into work whilst unfit, instead of staying at home and recuperating. This term has now expanded to include employees who are disengaged or not altogether in their day-to-day work.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) , presenteeism has tripled since 2010. It reports that more than four-fifths (83%) of its respondents had observed presenteeism in their workplace, and a quarter (25%) said the problem had got worse since the previous year.

Presenteeism is a clear and accelerating trend, which is highlighted by several studies, which have reached the same conclusion.

Research shows that people are significantly less productive when they are unwell and this can also become a hazard to others if they then pass on illness. There are also disengaged employees who are more likely to care less about their role and possibly make more mistakes. This all leads to a reduction in productivity and morale.

What Can Businesses Do?

Review your sickness policy, especially if it takes a hard line on being sick and is an aggressive policy.

If staff aren’t paid whilst they are ill or if you have incentives for 100% attendance, you may be encouraging employees to come in when they are ill.

If staff are disengaged, carry out an anonymous satisfaction survey to find out the cause of the issue, this may help you to reduce absenteeism.

Investigate the possibility of introducing a wellbeing initiative such as:

  • No evening emailing or phone calls – we know as a business leader it is unrealistic to expect you not to check your emails outside regular hours. Although by doing this you could be setting a dangerous precedent for your employees. If they are receiving emails outside of normal working hours, the temptation can be to answer them immediately to prove their dedication to your company.
  • Physiotherapy Team – 40% of all sickness and presenteeism can be attributed to Musculoskeletal Injuries/Disorders and having a team that you can refer too, will help you return employees  to full health & fitness, whilst equipping them with the tools to prevent reoccurrence. Find out more about our Workplace Physio services and how they can help your business.
  • Discourage employees taking work home – Whether it is to complete work outside normal hours or even to use their leave entitlement to complete work.

In conclusion it would depend upon your policies, procedures and existing measures as to which is the biggest threat to you and your business, is it presenteeism or is absenteeism?

Our Physiotherapy Team Can Help Your Business

Our Physiotherapy team are ready to help your business. Our workplace physiotherapy solutions can provide your workforce with timely access to physiotherapy as and when your employees need it. Calculate the cost of employee sickness with our online employee sickness calculator.

References used:

  1. Health and Well-Being at Work May 2018 CIPD & Simplyhealth. https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/health-and-well-being-at-work_tcm18-40863.pdf
  2. Sickness absence in the UK Labour market 2018 Office of National Statistics https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/sicknessabsenceinthelabourmarket/2018
  3. The rise of ‘presenteeism’ in the workplace 14 April 2019, Emma Simpson BBC News https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47911210
  4. Presenteeism – the UK’s biggest threat to productivity 1 June 2018, Steve Thompson The HRDirector https://www.thehrdirector.com/features/presenteeism/presenteeism-threat-productivity/
 
 
November 20, 2019

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