The UK worker took an average of 3 days off sick in 2014, down from 4.4 in 2013 and 5.6 in 2007. To many bosses, this may be good news: less time off means more work down and improvement in productivity rates. Yet the truth concerning presenteeism it somewhat different.
More days spent in work are not a result of improved employee health, but rather the fear of calling in sick. Almost 89% of workers report coming into work while unwell, which is a staggering 27 million people.
Research has found that presenteeism is often a result of increased workloads, money concerns and job insecurity. Employees are worried about being labeled lazy and weak, or made to feel guilty by their employer, if they too time off work for a short-term illness. Even or serious illnesses like flu, half the UK workforce would take no time off for, and 13% claimed hat they would have to be hospitalised before calling in sick.
Although on the surface this might look good news for employers, it is generally bad news. Coming into work when sick risks spreading illness across the workforce, leading to unnecessary and multiple absences. 70% of workers claim that they have become ill after coming into contact with a sick colleague. Workplaces act like confined incubators of illnesses and have the power to strike havoc if let to harvest.
Employers are better protected against these problems if they have a robust wellness policy, detailing how managers should respond to ill employees in the workforce, as well as policies on sickness pay etc. making staff aware of these absence policies through improved communication and inclusion in employee handbooks and contracts will enable employees to understand their responsibilities and best course of action should they fall ill. Reaction in this instance is never the best policy.