Presenteeism is likely MUCH bigger than you think!
Presenteeism is best defined as an employee who goes to work despite feeling unhealthy or experiencing other events that might normally compel absence.
The employee may be physically present, but because they are experiencing problems such as a cold or the flu, allergies, family illness or stress, to name but a few, they are unable to focus on their work. Performance is hampered, as is the quality of their work. Errors in judgement, as well as common mistakes become much more prevalent.
Pesenteeism is particularly detrimental when an employee comes to work when ill. This facilitates the spread of the illness, greatly increasing absenteeism as others get sick, while reducing the effectiveness of those who became ill when they return.
Why Does Presenteeism Happen?
In our experience, there are three three reasons why presenteeism exists:
An employee may feel that (s)he simply has a responsibility to come to work.
This could be because they feel that they are indispensable – that the work that they are doing is so important that no one else can do it ‘properly’. It can also occur when the employee doesn’t want to place the burden on others for doing their work.
Sometimes the reason is because the employee fears the consequences of not coming to work. This is especially prevalent in a challenging business environment, and can manifest in two ways:
- An employee may fear that if it is discovered that someone else, the one who covers for their absence for example, can do their job that their position will be eliminated.
- An employee that has already had significant time off may fear that taking additional time off will lead to their dismissal. This is particularly true when an employee has been disciplined for past absence.
Stress is an insidious condition, so much so that 97% of those with a stress related condition are unaware that stress is the root cause of it. When under stress, control is shifted from the cerebral cortex (the largest part of the brain) responsible for higher thought processes, to the emotional (protective) side of the brain controlled by the amygdala. Thought processes are diminished and the employee does what they can, just to get through the day.
Other reasons for presenteeism include:
- Hourly employees, who are not paid during an absence, may come to work when they shouldn’t because they can’t afford not to.
- Workers are concerned that when they return to work, the missed work will still be there waiting for them.
- There is no back-up plan for tasks that must be done.
By itself, presenteeism is very difficult to measure, but an alert supervisor/manager can take note of employees exhibiting the symptoms.
To support that, the assessment offered here looks at symptoms of presenteeism, and is offered as a tool to gauge how prevalent it is in your organization. It is suggested that the survey be completed by the Human Resources department for a look at presenteeism from an organizational perspective, as well as by supervisors and managers to evaluate their own departments.
Note: Before you begin, you will need your “Company ID’. If you do not already have one, it’s available from your Enrollment Manager, or by calling our office at 800.748.4082
The data presented in the Presenteeism Assessment is for informational purposes.