Presenteeism, in short, is when an employee comes to work feeling unwell, instead of calling in sick. Even though, in some way, it might appear as any presence at work is better than no presence, presenteeism is highly adverse for employees. In fact, presenteeism costs you more than absenteeism (unnecessary absence), and what’s more, it often goes without being noticed. You probably won’t miss your graphic designer not showing up for work, but noticing the amount of your programmer’s performance hindered by their allergy issues isn’t so obvious.
Most of the health problems that culminate in presenteeism aren’t epidemic. One of the most common ones is seasonal allergies, asthma, back pain, headaches, and depression. But, when employees take those illnesses to work, it results in a loss in productivity. The effects are indirect and often go unnoticed by employers. And although employees have good intentions, in the end, all they achieve is degrading the company’s productivity. Presenteeism doesn’t just affect an individual’s productivity, but it also influences their team. When an employee’s performance is lacking, team members might feel the burden of compensating for their performance deficiency, which means they might get head over heels to get the job done. It ultimately leads to them feeling stressed and therefore becoming less productive.
Being ill at work has an effect on both the quantity and quality of work. Employees work more slowly and they often make mistakes while working.
Cost of Presenteeism
Study shows that employee’s presenteeism costs employers as much as $226 billion. What’s more, this might be an understatement, because it isn’t as easy to notice. On average, employees take 4 sick days per year. However, the real number of days they lose by showing up to work but not mentally being there is a bit less than 57 days per year per employee.
What’s also not quite obvious is that presenteeism costs employees three times more than treatments that are provided by the company as an insurance premium.
Reasons for Presenteeism
Nature of illness
This is specifically true for chronic diseases. If an employee is dealing with allergy issues, which often last a long time, it’s obvious they can’t just stay at home until they resolve that issue. However, it’s important to know they actually have to stay home when a medical issue starts affecting their performance.
Job Characteristics and Workload
Sometimes employees feel like there’s no one to replace them when they call in sick, and once they get back they’ll have lagged behind with their workload. What’s more, many perceive taking sick days as a sign of low performance.
Another reason for presenteeism is the amount of paid sick days. For many professions, employees don’t get any paid sick leave. Hence, they choose going to work to avoid not being paid.
Saving Sick Days For Later
For employees with small children or those who take care of elderly people saving sick leave for later means they can use it for parental care.
How To Address Presenteeism In The Workplace?
Encourage Sick Leave
Remember that healthy staff is a productive staff. Let your employees know you want them to do their best at work, and if they aren’t able to do so, the best thing they can do is to stay at home when ill. Here it’s important to communicate clear sick leave justifications. It’s okay for employees with a mild allergy issue to come to work, but if they show symptoms of contagious illnesses such as fever or coughing, staying home is a must.
Change Your Absence Policy
Strict sick day policies are discouraging employees to take sick leave when needed, which is an ultimate presenteeism cause. But taught by experience, you should offer a certain number of paid sick days per year, which will reassure your workers to use sick leave and get better at home.
Monitor Productivity With Employee Screen Monitoring Software
As we said, presenteeism directly affects productivity. Therefore, the most effective way of catching sick employees showing up to work is to measure their performance. And the best tool to do that is employee screen monitoring software, according to Workplus. Focus on employees’ output to notice presenteeism. With software to monitor PC activity, you can check what your employees are doing in real-time. It gives you information regarding their tasks and projects, and time spent on them. Moreover, with activity software monitoring you can take screenshots that will give you more insight into your employees’ performance. If you notice a certain employee struggling more than usual with their regular work, you might have a case of presenteeism in your office, which you should address as soon as possible.
Employee productivity software does track attendance, but this isn’t quite an effective way to measure employee’s performance. Just because you have a record of their clock-ins and outs via a timer app, which might even show them staying after work hours, it doesn’t mean their productivity is the same as when they’re feeling well. However, attendance tracking helps you see which employees never take days off. Since you’re striving for a workplace culture that encourages using sick days and vacation time when needed, staff productivity software allows you to increase their engagement by allowing them to recharge their batteries.
You need to change the culture of presenteeism in your office. Show your employees you trust them by letting them use sick days to get better, and in return, you’ll have happy and productive workers whose well-being is a top priority.