What is Presenteeism? And how is it harming my business?

ACAS defines Presenteeism (or sickness presence) as staff becoming “increasingly reluctant to take time off for illness” and ultimately “turning up for work when unwell [which] may also be affecting productivity”.

People coming to work despite illness or workplace stress has tripled according to a report produced by the CIPD and Simplyhealth. The report surveys over 1000 HR professionals and is the 18th annual survey report by CIPD/Simplyhealth designed to examine trends in absence, health and well-being in the workplace.

86% of respondents claimed to have observed presenteeism in their place of work in the past year, whereas in 2016 it was 72% and only 26% in 2010. Despite these figures very few organisations have attempted to deter unhealthy workplace practices. Only 25% of respondents felt that their business had made an effort to deter presenteeism in the past year.

Staff related presenteeism is still one of the top causes of future long-term sickness absence in employees according to the report. Only one in ten of employers said to be taking action view these issues as a priority and perhaps more shockingly only 58% say their place of work is meeting the basic legal requirements for reducing workplace stress.

Similarly, Leavism is another term being used to describe unhealthy work practices, in this case, a staff member using their own annual leave to work. According to the survey, 69% felt that leavism had occurred in their organisation over the last year and only 27% of those who had experienced leavism occur, believe that their organisation is dealing with it.

With this report being released only weeks before 2018 Mental Health Awareness Week, it is imperative as an employer that you ensure you are following the best practice on reducing workplace stress. CIPD defines the four legal principles of reducing stress as an employer as:

  • Your duty to identify significant and foreseeable risks to employee health
  • Your duty to prevent harm to employee health that is foreseeable and caused by work
  • Your duty to consider any physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long-term effect on their ability to work
  • Your duty to consult with employees on health and safety matters.

It’s worth mentioning one significant finding in the report that is primarily positive, and that is how technological advances in the workplace seem to be having a positive impact on employee well-being as opposed to a negative one.

Considering the concern surrounding certain job roles becoming automated by machines in the past few years, it’s interesting to find that the majority of those surveyed believe workplace technological advancement is generally a good thing. However, approximately 9/10 employees believe that as a result of technology more employees are less inclined to ‘switch off’ and therefore having an effect on well-being.