Ten ways to stop Presenteeism at work

Sick leave has traditionally always been a concern for businesses but more recently presenteeism at work is increasingly an issue. It’s on the rise, and can cause a worrying loss of productivity for the employer, posing an overall risk to health and wellbeing of the employee.

So What Exactly is it?

Presenteeism is the act of showing up for work while feeling unwell. According to a recent survey by Aviva UK, workers here in the UK are said to be three times more likely to struggle into work than take sick leave when needed, with up to 69% of staff admitting they have turned up for work when they were feeling unwell. Some admit to the fear of a growing build-up of their work-load upon their return, as the key reason for struggling in.

1: Recognise Signs of Stress in an Employee

As an employer, make it clear that your organisation expects sick employees to stay home, until they feel well enough to return. In some companies, employees who come to work when sick are seen as dedicated, soldiering on through illness to get the job done. But feeling under pressure to come to work when unwell, reduces employee morale and can negatively impact physical and mental wellbeing.

Some employees who are suffering with illness, particularly mental-health related problems, often feel unable to discuss or disclose them to their manager. In turn managers are rarely trained to support them effectively. But in-house training and awareness of common mental and physical health issues such as stress, will help managers and staff to have a better understanding of wellbeing at work as well as reducing the stigma that surrounds it.

EAPs are completely confidential, they give the employee reassurance and can be used for a wide variety of issues such as stress and financial issues, to bereavement and relationship problems, supporting the workforce as and when needed.

2: Adopt an Open Culture

Ensure that your line managers engage with staff and encourage open and honest discussions to try and prevent presenteeism. Look at restructuring workloads if they are struggling, and encourage them to put their health first, if they feel unwell, so that they return feeling 100%. An open door policy can help towards boosting morale, which enhances communications with managers and senior staff members and prevents future presenteeism.

3: Be Clear About Your Sick Leave Policy

Sick leave policies that implement strict rules regarding hours of work may discourage staff from taking time off when they need to and can actively trigger presenteeism. The knock-on effect of this is that workers feel that they have little choice other than to turn up for work. To overcome this common behaviour of employees, make sure your line managers are supportive towards absence at work and adopt a more flexible approach to illness by encouraging time off when it’s needed.

4: Have You Thought About a Presenteeism Policy?

As an employer you might want to consider a presenteeism policy that fully explains the company’s approach to illness. This gives your employees a clear understanding that they will not be penalised when they find themselves unable to work.

5: Ensure Your Company Adopts a Work/Life Balance

To help ensure a much healthier and happier workforce, focusing on the work/life balance of your employees is vital for their wellbeing. Take small steps, for example, by encouraging individuals to take breaks away from their desk or work stations frequently. If there is a staff room or communal eating area available, they’re more likely to take time out, giving them the break that they need and are entitled to. Encourage staff not to send emails outside of work hours and make sure workers take their full holiday entitlement, so they can fully switch off from their duties.

6: Offer Employee Assistance Programmes

Since the 1970s many organisations have made Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) available to staff. EAPs are designed to help individuals who are facing difficult or challenging situations in their personal lives which might cause their performance at work to suffer, or which could impact on their general health and wellbeing. These programmes offer confidential one-to-one advice over the phone and they are a cost effective way for the employer to provide specialist help to an employee if they need it. EAPs are completely confidential, they give the employee reassurance and can be used for a wide variety of issues such as stress and financial issues, to bereavement and relationship problems, supporting the workforce as and when needed.

7: Have You Considered Offering Your Staff Health Screening?

Some organisations choose to adopt health screening plans for their staff, where employers refund 100% of the cost up to a yearly total, depending on the agreement and the level of cover that they choose for their teams. This can help employees to get an annual update of their overall health and wellbeing, as well as identifying any areas for concern early enough, often reducing the need for lengthy time off in the future.

8: A 24 Hour GP Consultation Service

A 24 hour GP advice service can help protect the health and wellbeing of an employee. It’s not always easy to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP especially during work hours, so advice lines give the option of round-the clock reassurance and peace of mind, knowing that they’re able to speak to a qualified GP any time of the day, or night.

An enhancement to this level of support is the availability of an app, such as our GP 24/7 service, which has the ability to put the worker in touch with a bank of qualified GPs to access professional advice. And for less urgent queries, the employee can message a doctor to ask questions about medication or any concerns that may otherwise have taken them away from their place of work to see a GP.

9: Have You Thought About Flexible Working?

Allowing your workers the option of flexible working can increase productivity, while improving employee engagement and loyalty, and can further reduce presenteeism in the workplace. Making staff aware that they are measured on what they deliver, rather than the number of hours that they sit in front of their desk can really help.

10: Boost Staff Morale with Discount Schemes

A recent survey conducted amongst 18-29 year olds by the Personal Group, has revealed that employees consider staff discounts to be one of the most valuable benefits in the workplace. It showed that workers get more satisfaction from concessions and reductions than physical possessions. And renowned psychology professor Dr Thomas Gilovich says that spending money on experiences rather than assets makes individuals happier, with the overall effects lasting much longer.

Schemes such as Paycare Perks provides employees with discounts on family holidays, cinema tickets, mini breaks and sports memberships. It provides financial help through discounts, deals and cashback on purchases, allowing individuals to enjoy many more of life’s experiences for less.

For more information on reducing the impact of presenteeism in the workplace, please do get in touch with a member of our team on 01902 371000 or email enquiries@paycare.org