26 Apr 2019, 14:59

‘Presenteeism’ Rising Fast In UK Workplaces

A study by health insurance specialist Vitality has found that so-called ‘presenteeism’ -  a culture whereby people still go to work when they are unwell - is rising fast in UK workplaces.

The ‘Britain's Healthiest Workplace’ study is carried out annually by Vitality and canvasses the opinions of over 30,000 employees at more than 160 offices and other businesses around the UK.

Presenteeism is a problem for employers because if staff are not feeling at their best then they aren’t going to perform at their best and there is a high chance that they are going to pass on their cold and flu to colleagues, having a multiplier effect.

Unhealthy staff are unproductive staff - and that unproductivity will be reflected in businesses’ bottom lines. If you as an employer can look after the wellbeing of your staff, then not only will you be increasing the wellness and happiness of the whole office, you will also have a direct (positive) effect on your profits.

Explaining the difference between ‘presenteeism’ and ‘absenteeism’ the Vitality website says:

“Presenteeism may be defined as being present at work but being limited in some aspects of job performance by a health problem and thus experiencing decreased productivity and below-normal work quality. This is different to absence, which is generally defined as not showing up for work.”

The Vitality figures showed that UK employees are losing more than 12 per cent of their working hours - or an average of almost 36 days of productive time per employee per year - due to presenteeism.

The research also found that more than 2 in 5 UK employees said that health problems were affecting their work, a ratio which has tripled since 2013.

That is a very worrying trend for both UK staff members and their employers.

Furthermore, Vitality’s figures on workplace wellbeing are backed up by other research by the Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The latest statistics from CIPD revealed that 83 per cent of UK businesses and organisations had witnessed presenteeism in their own staff, a figure which has grown by more than a quarter over the past twelve months alone!

Commenting on why UK businesses should be doing more to keep a close eye on their employees’ wellbeing, Dixons Carphone's Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Kesah Trowell, said: “It really does make good business sense. It's important that we have happy, healthy and engaged workforce.”

“Technology makes it easy for people to hide behind their desks, their computers or their phones. It's easier for there to be more presenteeism than there would've been a few years ago. That's why it's important for us to manage this,” added Ms Trowell.

Neville Koopowitz, chief executive of Vitality, also commented on the need for UK workplaces to do more to help, saying: “Workplace stress and mental wellbeing has a massive impact. We believe presenteeism is the key issue behind Britain's productivity problem, where people are at work and not performing in an optimal way.”

Some ways in which you can try to reduce presenteeism is your own workplace is by addressing the always-in culture in your organisation and allowing people paid time of to recover at home when they are ill.