Is presenteeism the new absenteeism?

The CIPD’s 2012 Absence Management Survey has shown that the average level of employee absence has fallen by almost a day.

Effects of presenteeism in the workplace

Although on the face of it this is seen as very welcome news for employers and the economy in general, but could it be masking the fact that because of the uncertain economic conditions and the volatile job market employees are working through their illnesses.

This so called ‘presenteeism’ can be as dangerous and destructive as absenteeism. As employers there can be a massive impact on individuals feeling so insecure in their jobs that they come to work ill. This can have a health and safety impact, for example those working with machinery or those required to drive as part of their jobs, don’t forget your employer duty of care!

There is also the impact on productivity and staff engagement, a workforce of individuals not at their best because they feel they have to come to work or risk being fired or made redundant create a negative atmosphere and this is therefore counter productive.

For employees to flourish they need to be engaged with the organisation, they need to be able to relax and concentrate on how they can add value. Feeling under pressure to come to work can quickly become infectious in an organisation and that will lead to low morale and good staff moving on to better employers.

Lets be clear we are not talking about someone working through a cold or a minor ailment we are taking about people suffering from significant life impacting illnesses, the additional pressure brought about by not feeling able to “phone in sick” can only further impact both an employees physical and mental health, in turn potentially storing long term serious issues for the organisation.

Companies need to ensure in these pressurised times that they do not cut back on occupational heath provisions but are ready to support their employees with the additional life pressures they are encountering, only by doing this will they realise the true value of their employees contributions.