presenteeism workplace wellness

Presenteeism Continues to Impact Workplaces: Report

One business cost that well-run workplace wellness programs seek to address is absenteeism — when employees miss work because of illness or related reasons. But another major cost to business is when employees are not feeling physically or mentally well, but show up to work anyhow: Presenteeism.

This can reduce productivity and potentially expose colleagues to their illness (in some cases of physical illness, such as the flu) as well.

We’ve reported on the costs of presenteeism:

  • The firm Wildgoose conducted a survey of employees from 250 companies across the UK and wrote: “It is imperative that employers address the issue of mental health symptoms within the workplace, particularly as it is estimated that the average cost to a business per employee as a result of absence due to mental health symptoms totals £1,035 per year.”
  • A study published in BMC Public Health titled “Healthy and productive workers: using intervention mapping to design a workplace health promotion and wellness program to improve presenteeism” states: “The economic costs related to presenteeism exceed those of absenteeism and employer health costs. Employers are implementing workplace health promotion and wellness programs to improve health among workers and reduce presenteeism.”

Now a Workplace Insight report indicates just how significant the presenteeism problem may be: “Two-thirds (64 percent) of employees have gone to work despite being unwell over the last 12 months, claims a new survey which found that a quarter (26 percent) of people worried that their absence will be a burden on their team.”

Additional Insights on Presenteeism

The post is based on research from Bupa. Additional insights:

  • “More than one in four (27 percent) employees ignore their doctor’s orders to stay at home and ‘soldier on’.”
  • “A third of employees would go to work despite back pain or issues related to their joints.”
  • “A similar number (29 percent) head to work when suffering from mental health issues such as depression.”

The post explains the problem — and potential business impact — clearly: “High levels of ‘presenteeism’ are in fact associated with loss of productivity and reduced performance – as employees who push themselves into work when unwell, risk delaying their own recovery.”