Presenteeism is on the rise

We’ve all demonstrated some level of presenteeism at work in our jobs. For many of us these are short-lived periods of time when we are not as productive as we usually are due to a variety of reasons. For others, periods of presenteeism can be longer-lasting if the cause goes unaddressed.

Presenteeism is the phenomenon of going to work when you’re not at your full capacity to perform your job. You show up physically to work - you are present- but you are not able to perform your job in the most productive and efficient way due to health issues. We’ve written about presenteeism in the past- check out this post for more information and stats.

Presenteeism is on the rise, according to this recent article from the BBC. Various surveys tracking an increase in presenteeism over the past few years are discussed. Here are some highlights:

  • More than 40% of employees state that health concerns have impacted work in the past year. This has risen by a 1/3 in the past five years.

  • 83% of survey respondents stated that they had observed presenteeism in their workplace, and 25% stated this had worsened in the past year.

Mental health concerns can be a cause of presenteeism in the workplace, as these are often invisible conditions that may not be fully understood by the person going through the health change, or by others in the workplace. External and internal stigma, lack of benefits/sick time, and lack of resources for support can be causes perpetuating presenteeism related to mental health conditions. In the BBC article, one person who developed depression but continued to work stated that remaining at work while experiencing this condition made it worse.

How can employers and employees decrease presenteeism? The main strategy is often easier said than done- don’t come to work if you can’t perform your job. Take time off to recover and return to work when well. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why this is challenging and unrealistic in many cases.

Proactive wellness and mental health strategies in a workplace are important in helping workers and managers notice signs/symptoms of changes in mental health in themselves and others. Having resources and options for improving mental health in the workplace are also essential, so workers can easily access the support they need. Benefits and sick time policies that allow people to be paid for time off is extremely important in allowing people to take necessary time away from work to return when able to be as productive and efficient as possible.

We provide support for many of these initiatives to combat presenteeism. Contact us for more details on how we can support your workplace.