Businesses lose millions of dollars every year due to the absenteeism of the employees. The excessive workload, physical health, and mental illness issues are some of the major causes behind it. However, over the years the opposite situation to absenteeism - presenteeism - has been a contributing reason to the business failures.
What is Presenteeism?
Presenteeism happens when people show up to work despite sickness, injury, fatigue, and any other reason that impacts their normal level of productivity.
Studies show that presenteeism due to physical illness or mental health concerns is a serious issue. However, it has remained unaddressed for a long time. The practice of censoring this topic at the workplace is what costs businesses millions.
Presenteeism is not a new concept. But, the race to survival has magnified and amplified it way more than what it was a decade ago. As an employer or leader, you need to understand that when your employees show up to work at their worst health that is when you are promoting presenteeism, unknowingly.
How is it costing your business?
Presenteeism is not about running from one’s responsibilities. It is what happens when a person wants to be productive but cannot deliver the results to the best of their potential because of any sickness.
It is costing the businesses heavily. According to Harvard Business Review, presenteeism has multiplied the productivity loss thrice as compared to that due to absenteeism.
Presenteeism is the root cause that leads to a whopping loss of 230 billion dollars every year for US businesses. And, it can significantly affect your business. It has a serious impact on the team. Colleagues tend to take the workload of team members who are lacking behind. They add more than what they can handle to their plate.
All of this results in increased stress and burnout and hence, affects the productivity of the team members at work. If unchecked, this develops a pattern and creates a vicious circle. This makes it difficult for the employees to break the circle and get out of the unproductivity loop.
Presenteeism has become a serious concern now more than ever. We are living through a global pandemic. The offices have been shifted online. With people working from home, the line between personal and professional has been blurred.
As we sit on our couches with our laptops, presenteeism has increased ridiculously. Because people find it hard to draw the line between time for work and time for family.
What are the causes of presenteeism?
There is no one reason that fits all for presenteeism. The reasons vary from person to person, all ranging from workplace to personal life to health issues. Here are a few of the most common of them:
Taking off from work results in piling up work for self and even burdens coworkers with additional duties. Hence, this is one of the major causes of presenteeism at the workplace. Because nobody would want to come back to a pile of documents, missed deadlines, and new work to catch up to.
Sense of loyalty to the team
Accountability of one’s responsibility is a good trait as an employee. People who have a sense of loyalty towards their duties and coworkers are more likely to be at work. They put work before health and thus adds to the problem.
Each of us, in the end, is working to sustain our families and live a good life. No matter what anybody says, but the truth is money is important. Especially during the pandemic, people went on to work from home because they had financial duties to fulfill.
Job security concerns
Companies and organizations with strict attendance policies usually compel their employers to work with presenteeism. Nobody wants to lose their job. People are scared of the consequences. Especially in times like now, during a pandemic, when it is becoming so hard every passing day.
Pressure from the management
As I said, the pressure from the management is a serious contributing factor to presenteeism. Unrealistic expectations and hopes too high from manpower force the employees to be at the office even at their worst. Employers forget that this doesn’t add to productivity but promotes toxic work culture.
Lesser paid sick days
Businesses blissfully promote and celebrate productivity and high revenue. But this usually comes at the cost of the health of their employers. Less paid sick days or no such days at all make a significant contribution to the problem of presenteeism.
All of these reasons lead to what is called “the culture of presenteeism”. It makes people feel obligated to come to work even when they are unwell. It also takes them on a guilt trip when they choose to stay at home. All this is nothing but toxic.
Now that we know the causes of the situation, it is necessary that we throw equal light on the measures we can take to prevent the employees from going through the presenteeism.
How can you prevent presenteeism?
Every problem has a solution. So does presenteeism. Presenting to you some reliable actions that can help you to prevent your employers from going through it.
Acknowledgment of the problem
Observing your employees and acknowledging the problem is the very first step. As an employer or leader, you cannot go walk around your office ignoring your employees' situation. You have to take hold of the situation and take disciplinary action by asking the employee to stay at home and take rest as needed. Also, you must make sure that this rule is followed by all your employees.
Offering healthcare benefit packages
People work when they are ill to maintain the high-paying medical bills. Including medical and healthcare benefits packages to the employers will allow them to go easy on themselves. They can use their package to get the needful treatment and take the appropriate time to recover.
A workplace policy on Presenteeism
A policy that clearly explains everything about Presenteeism must be circulated at all levels of the company. It should include information about paid sick leaves or switching to work from home when needed. Don’t forget to include educational information about the situation for your employees’ reference.
Practice what you preach
Last but not the least, practice what you preach. Yes, you a leader. Yes, you have the responsibility of a company and its people. But, don’t forget to take breaks when you need to. A leader leads by example. So, set an example for your employers and go as easy on yourself as you are with them.
The situation might sound contradictory. But, the truth is sick employees contribute to the loss even when they are present at work. Therefore, discourage presenteeism at your workplace. It will not save your business from the loss but also keep the workplace hygienic and positive for everyone.