Work and Wellbeing 17 May 2018

The impact of presenteeism? on profitability: Why sick days are good for business

hot lemon drink,  thermometer and tablets
If staff are regularly coming into work unwell, this is bound to have an effect on how productive they are
With new research showing the number of employees turning up to work ill has risen dramatically, Matt Liggins, director of wellbeing at Health@Work, explains to employers why, in fact, sick days are good for business.

According to CIPD’s latest Health and Wellbeing at Work survey, presenteeism, or people coming into work when they are ill, has more than tripled since 2010.

Of over 1, 000 respondents, 86 per cent said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72 per cent in 2016 and just 26 per cent in 2010.

The survey also found that “leaveism”, such as people using annual leave to work, is a growing problem. More than two-thirds of respondents (69 per cent) reported that leaveism has occurred in their organisation over the last year.

it’s important for employers to understand the true impact that these figures could be having on their business, and how they can help to combat it. If staff are regularly coming into work when they are unwell, this is bound to have an effect on how productive they are. Additionally, if employees are regularly working over their contracted hours it could quickly lead to burnout.

Whilst people coming into work when sick or taking on additional workload may be perceived as a sign of dedication and something to be admired, it is actually something that employers should be concerned by. Having this attitude can create unhealthy working cultures, with employees feeling judged if they call in sick or even leave work on time.

Despite the disturbing figures revealed by the report, the CIPD found that only a minority of organisations are taking steps to challenge these unhealthy workplace practices. Just a quarter of respondents that had experienced presenteeism (25 per cent) said their organisation has taken steps to discourage it over the last year, a figure that has almost halved since 2016 (48 per cent). Similarly, only 27 per cent of those who had experienced leaveism said their organisation is taking action to tackle it.

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As a result of the findings, the CIPD is encouraging employers to invest in a wider health and wellbeing approach that is embedded into their culture and one that supports a preventative approach to employee health and wellbeing.

However, we know that for many businesses, this is often easier said than done and the wellbeing of their employees is a top priority, despite not having support in place.

Often businesses need to introduce external support to act as a critical friend, such as the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, to help shape how people think about workplace wellbeing, encouraging open conversations about all important aspects of health including stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.


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