Continuing Problem of Presenteeism

Workplaces Need to Address Continuing Problem of Presenteeism: More Insights

Earlier this week we reported on the continuing problem of presenteeism — the challenge of employees who do not feel physically or mentally well, but show up to work anyhow.

As we have reported: “Employees coming into work when sick are contributing to a rising trend of ‘presenteeism’ across the UK, with more than half (52 percent) of UK workers admitting to going to work when their performance is negatively affected by work-related health issues, a new survey claims,” according to an earlier Workplace Insights post.

It continues: “A third (34 percent) of workers have even considered moving jobs due to the negative impact of their work environment on their health – the highest percentage across Europe. The report from Fellowes, published to coincide with World Day for Safety and Health at Work, argues when a worker is present but not able to perform their function properly, it compromises their productivity. With most employees continuing to work at sub-par levels rather than taking days off to recover, this also prolongs the effect of illness. Subsequently, businesses are experiencing a detrimental knock-on impact on the quality and volume of work produced, with a further impact on overall business performance.”

As for the cost implications, Louise Shipley, European Business Team Manager – Workspace Management at Fellowes said: “With European businesses already losing a staggering €73 billion annually due to absenteeism, employers simply can’t disregard the worsening problem of presenteeism taking effect.”

A new Workplace Insights post reports on “a survey of 2,496 UK employees on their attitudes and behaviours around work presenteeism and illness in the workplace.”

Other insights from the report — while based in the UK — could provide useful guidance for U.S.-based workplace wellness programs:

  • The average British worker worked over four days when they were genuinely ill and should have stayed at home last year
  • 75.3 percent of surveyed UK employees reported having worked whilst genuinely ill last year
  • Over half of UK employees (52.0 percent) had delayed seeking medical advice because they didn’t want to take time off work
  • Over a third (38.8 percent) of UK employees have delayed seeking medical advice, only to discover that they needed treatment
  • Almost 80 percent (79.6 percent) of surveyed women reported going to work ill, compared to over 70 percent of men
  • Young people (those aged 16-24) were far more likely to go to work ill (86.8 percent), take unpaid leave (25.1 percent) or lie (14.8 percent) to see a GP