Understanding presenteeism

Understanding presenteeismMost of us – both employers and employees – are aware of the concern regarding absenteeism in the workplace. Frequent absences can affect employee productivity, which puts a financial burden on the employer and could create excess work for other employees, thereby leading to reduced morale and burnout.

However, one issue in the workplace that receives much less focus is “presenteeism.” This is when an employee is at work, but is not focused on the job, the company or his or her co-workers. Presenteeism can be the result of poor morale, or part of a medical concern such as depression, stress, fatigue or illness – but no matter what the cause, the outcome is the same: reduced productivity.

In fact, some studies have shown that presenteeism can actually be of greater concern than absenteeism. Employees displaying presenteeism are less focused, which means they could be making errors or not paying attention and, for employers such as factories, this could lead to serious safety concerns for other employees.

As such, it’s important to recognize the signs of presenteeism and deal with them head-on.

Diagnose and seek feedback

It’s hard to know that there’s a problem if you haven’t actually asked about it or tried to measure it. Seeking feedback from employees regarding their workplace and overall morale can help to get a better understanding of what the mood is – and whether poor engagement is of concern. Ensure that employees understand they will not be penalized for answering honestly; if necessary, hire a third-party to assess the workplace and keep all answers anonymous.

Address concerns

Of course, it’s not enough to merely find out what the issues are that are contributing to presenteeism. Once a diagnosis has been completed, it’s important to address the issues – and to let employees know that their concerns are being considered. Responding to issues and making changes as necessary won’t happen overnight, so be honest with staff and at the very least, let them know that their responses are being considered and acted upon.

Implement a wellness program

Sick employees will not be as productive as healthy ones, even if they come into work every day. By offering a wellness program, employers can ensure that they’re doing their best to keep employees healthy and that they’re demonstrating to staff that they’re committed to a healthy work environment. Implementing a culture of wellness in the workplace is one of the best ways to increase morale, improve employee health and ensure everyone is engaged.