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Absenteeism or presenteeism?

“Absence makes your colleagues work harder”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that UK workers' average number of sickness absence days has almost halved since records began in 1993. The figures show that employees took an average of 4.1 sickness absence days in 2017, compared with 7.2 days in 1993.   

At first glance this is great news ... isn’t it?

Well no, not really, especially when you compare this against the cost of presenteeism - people coming into work to ill to be productive. In 2018, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) suggested that employers lost 30.7 million working days on account of work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries. According to The Work Foundation, presenteeism is costing the UK economy £30 billion every year and they predict absenteeism will cost employers just over £21 billion by 2020.

Presenteeism is largely invisible and difficult to measure, but can be caused by high volume of work, stress, mental health issues, financial concerns, a sense of guilt and feeling obliged to come in. As well as a drop in productivity, presenteeism denies the employee time to recover, meaning the period of ill-health is generally stretched out. The Mental Health Foundation states that almost 13% of all UK sickness absence is connected to mental health issues.

A CIPD survey published in 2018 stated that presenteeism had more than tripled since 2010, with 86% of respondents observing this over a 12 month period in their organisation. However, only 25% had taken steps to discourage it.

So how do you stop and tackle tackle presenteeism? Here are Wilder Coe Ltd's practical top tips:

  • Invest in training for both managers and employees so there is greater understanding about well-being
  • Encourage employees to recognise the signs of stress and any work-related physical health issues
  • Promote health and well-being initiatives
  • Tackle mental health stigma and offer mental health daus
  • Review existing policies and procedures to include flexible working
Get in touch with Wilder Coe to discuss this or any other HR-related issues for your business.