Archived Story

Presenteeism: A cause for Concern?

Published 9:05am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

By Lieah Van Gompel

Mower Refreshed Intern

We already know that a productive workforce is one key element to a successful business. Employees missing work often (absenteeism) reduces productivity rates and increases cost to the company. But what happens when employees are attending work in the midst of on-going physical or mental health issues? The answer is presenteeism. This phenomenon occurs when the employee, despite being physically present at work, performs tasks with reduced focus due to a lack of mental presence.

Presenteeism occurs for a variety of reasons, all of which tend to be linked to physical and mental wellness. The Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) published research that indicates a strong association between poor health behaviors and increased levels of presenteeism. Tobacco use, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity all contributed to an increase in the likelihood of employees exhibiting high levels of presenteeism. In addition, employees living with chronic conditions are more likely to have high rates of presenteeism than employees without; depression tops this list with a 131percent increased risk of presenteeism. The major cost to the business for high levels of presenteeism is a loss in productivity and costs associated with an unwell workforce, as well as the increased potential for accidents in some settings.

The good news is businesses can reduce and prevent presenteeism in their workforces. Supporting the overall wellness of your employees is key to addressing presenteeism, and it comes with additional benefits as well such as decreased absenteeism and total health care costs. A strong and healthy team is a productive team, after all. Providing healthy options at the worksite and encouraging physical activity throughout the day are low/no cost solutions that can put your business on track to see results. In addition, offering resources for managing stress and mental health issues may help employees to better rise above these challenges. Companies of all sizes can offer wellness initiatives to employees; leadership-driven wellness efforts to improve employee health at even small companies are becoming increasingly common.

Employees spend a significant amount of time at work each week, and their overall potential for wellness truly depends on the climate of their work environment. What are you doing to promote wellness in your organization?


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