Presenteeism And How To Deal With It

Presenteeism is a term that is used to define the measure of lost productivity due to employees being at work, but not being fully engaged and productive primarily because of personal health and life issue distractions. This leads to absenteeism from work either periodically or long-term. An additional cost that is difficult to measure is the poor quality of work that is performed by the employee. This can cost a business clients, lost profits and perhaps even liability due to product defects. When these are combined, the costs are significant to companies and need to be managed more effectively.

As our workforce ages and workers are faced with providing “elder-care” for parents, the impact of presenteeism will likely continue to grow without measures being taken. There is a direct relationship in the progression of presenteeism due to illness, then to short term disability and finally on to long term disability. The effects of presenteeism can exist for months prior to workers becoming disabled, thus costing the employer long before any measurable absence from work is recorded.  

There are several different solutions that employers can use to help combat presenteeism. Employers can begin by encouraging sick or distraught workers to get appropriate medical or emotional counseling as soon as possible before returning back to work. Modifying or expanding a personal leave policy to better aid employees can be a good first step that can be implemented with low cost. This also has the side benefit of showing the employees that their employer is concerned about their wellbeing.

Awareness is the key and taking action to prepare for these situations in advance rather than being caught by surprise pays dividends. Smart businesses will become aware of presenteeism and take charge to control it in order to their business.