When forming strategies to increase workplace productivity, employers tend to focus on preventing absenteeism. While absences are easily trackable and can, therefore, better tie into productivity metrics, a less visible culprit called presenteeism is more likely to be plaguing your office.
Presenteeism occurs when employees cannot fully function at their jobs—usually due to an illness—but come to work anyway. When employees aren’t feeling well, they cannot work to their full potential. Presenteeism accounts for 75% of productivity losses, according to a 2010 Journal of General Internal Medicine study. It can also be an indication of serious flaws in company culture and workplace environment, which can have far-reaching implications not just for productivity, but employee engagement as well.
When employees come to work sick, they can spread germs which may infect other employees, clients, customers, and anyone else they come into contact with. This will potentially lead to more illnesses and absences. Furthermore, there is an increased chance of workplace injuries, especially if the employee is operating machinery. Presenteeism also leads to exhaustion and prolonged illnesses. In order to quickly recover, the body needs rest. If an employee continues to come to work when sick or injured, their body is not given an adequate opportunity to heal and recuperate.
A Global Corporate Challenge Insights report found that, while employees used an average of four sick days each year, they reported being unproductive at work for nearly sixty days per year! This can translate to huge losses for companies. To mitigate this risk, employers should focus on creating a culture that supports health and discourages presenteeism, by:
- Providing paid sick days off to reduce the financial strain of missing work
- Offering adequate medical benefits and services, like Continuwell’s 24/7 nurse hotline, which they can use to discuss symptoms and treatment plans
- Recognizing and supporting employees when they’re showing signs of struggles with stress, depression, anxiety, or mental illness
- Arranging sufficient staffing, so they feel comfortable taking time off when they need it
These simple practices can improve employee health by reducing the pressure to come to work when they’re not feeling well. When employers support a culture of health, employees are happier, more productive, and more engaged at work. Visit our Features page to find out more about how Continuwell can help prevent presenteeism and encourage employee engagement in company resources.
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