Is Your Workplace Getting Healthier?


Falling Absence Rates

Absence rates in the workplace are falling, you would think is a good thing – surely that means we are getting healthier? Unfortunately it doesn’t always mean that. Does your workplace suffer from presenteeism? Never heard of it? Nor had I until a couple of years ago.

Presenteeism is the act of turning up for work when you should be at home because you are too sick to work. Apparently it is on the increase and stress and worry about job security may be to blame.

Cost of Working Through Illness

Unfortunately some managers see this as a sign of dedication and commitment, but at what cost? Studies show a link between increased presenteeism and an increase in anxiety, depression and stress-related absence.

The fact is trying to work through illness results in mistakes and reduced performance. It also spreads contagious diseases and before you know it one person in the office sick becomes five people in the office sick – this is not good for morale and can create a culture where people turn up because they believe it is expected.

Taking Action to Reduce Presenteeism

If staff are turning up when they are too ill to work what can you do?

If absence levels have dropped in your organisation over the last couple of years take a step back and ask yourself, is this because you have introduced strong absence management systems, or is it a result of concerns within the workforce about the future of the business?

How to Reduce Presenteeism:

  • Managers must take the lead by sending people home when they are clearly unwell.
  • Take action to understand and address employees’ concerns.
  • Have a proactive approach to absence management by introducing effective systems and training managers.
  • Communicate your absence policies and procedures and make it clear that anyone who arrives and is not well enough for work will be sent home.
  • Have return to work procedures to help support people on their return.
  • Align absence management with employee wellbeing initiatives.

To access a summary of a recent survey into absence carried out by Simply Health for the CIPD

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