presenteeism workplace wellness

How Workplace Wellness — and Clear Communication — Can Help Address Presenteeism Costs

Yesterday we continued our reporting on presenteeism and the question of just how significant the presenteeism problem may be.

According to Workplace Insight: “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.”

How can businesses help educate employees that coming to work when not feeling one’s best is not necessarily best — for them or the business? One way is through a well-run workplace wellness program that helps emphasize personal well-being over daily work requirements.

The post notes: “workload pressure is one of the reasons many people head to work regardless of the state of their health. Many felt their to-do list was too long for them to be able to take time off.”

In fact: “A quarter (26 percent) of people head into work when they are seriously ill because they worry that their absence will be a burden on their team, unaware that this is counterintuitive.”

Presenteeism Data

Much of the survey data support this argument.

  • “64 percent of UK respondents have gone into work in the last 12 months despite being unwell”
  • “27 percent ignored their doctor’s advice to stay at home”
  • “29 percent of the UK go to work when suffering from stress, anxiety or depression”
  • “20 percent say they went to work when unwell as they had too much work to do to be able to take time off”
  • “26 percent say they went into work when unwell as they felt worried about the burden of their absence on their team”

These findings highlight — as we have noted previously — the importance of positive workplace wellness communication and the direct impact it can have on colleagues.

This concept was especially clear in a study titled “Let’s work out: communication in workplace wellness programs” and published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, which sought “to examine the association between health-related communication and health behaviors among co-workers in a workplace wellness program.”

The results? “Perceived social influence from co-workers had an indirect effect on people’s health behaviors through their perceived social support from their co-workers, as well as through their organizational socialization.”

In other words, when employees felt that — through communication — they had gained support from colleagues, their “health behaviors” were positively impacted. And one of those behaviors just might be to address the costs of presenteeism and stay home when needed.