‘Presenteeism’ and the cost to your organisation

B2B Editor12 August 2016

‘Presenteeism’ and the cost to your organisation

And we all thought absenteeism was a problem!

We know how hard it can be to get out of bed on a chilly morning, more so if you are feeling less than ideal. However, more often than not employees are choosing to go in to work. Whether it’s dedication to the job or fear of increasing workloads; here’s why going to work sick isn’t going to help your career or organisation.

Presenteeism is when an employee is physically at work yet not productive. We’ve all seen and experienced it. You’ve powered through the day on a half tank struggling to focus. Why we do it is often related to who we are and how we feel about our job. Whilst this dedication may be seen as exceptional organisational citizenship; the cost to business can be huge.

Recent studies found that on average an employee takes four days sick leave per year, but when reporting how many days they lost while on the job, that number shot up to a staggering 57.5 days per year! That’s close on 12 working weeks!

Many businesses have such a narrow focus on absenteeism; a key performance measure often implemented organisation wide, that presenteeism is missed altogether. To identify presenteeism, it requires managers and team leaders to be well-tuned to their staff and each individual’s behaviours. Quite often managers become so caught up in day-to-day operations they fail to see the subtle cues displayed by employees, thereby missing the symptoms and causes of presenteeism.

So what can be done to combat presenteeism?

A simple place to start is to focus less on the number of days employees are absent and instead turn your attention to the overall wellbeing of your employees who are there, plus energy levels at work.

Have clear measures and know what daily output looks like. If individual output capability is not known, how do you know when productivity is down? This is when the business needs to be responding to and supporting that employee.

From a well-being perspective, consider sanity days ; one paid day per quarter, for staff to complete those little chores that mount up or to “just be”. This isn’t added to annual leave or long weekends, it’s a day for the individual. We see everyone 100% refreshed after taking these days. Think about it – four days versus many unproductive ones.

Is presenteeism an issue in your organisation? Know your people.

Sandy Gibbs
Branch Manager, PCA people
a division of DFP Recruitment
T:(02) 6257 1010

PCA People