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How presenteeism can affect your business

How presenteeism can affect your business

Just as absenteeism affects productivity, presenteeism, or coming into work when in poor health, can also have a negative effect on the workplace environment. If you think any of your employees are suffering from presenteeism, here’s what to do to ensure your business remains efficient.

What are the warning signs?

A fulfilling job can have great psychological and physical benefits. But feeling compelled to come into work during physical illness or depression can have the opposite effect, and potentially lead to serious health problems. Signs of presenteeism can include:

  • Lower productivity and missed deadlines.
  • Mistakes, accidents and oversights.
  • Increased conflict and less team cohesion.
  • General lack of motivation.

A negative attitude can spread through the workplace (and social media) like a virus. Not just a health hazard, presenteeism can be a threat to your reputation as well. Staying on top of the warning signs can help you keep your workplace positive and productive.

Who is at risk?

study compiled by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners found that older, female and highly conscientious workers are especially prone to presenteeism, as are teachers and health workers. Notwithstanding this, any workplace can have employees who record good attendance but poor engagement in their roles.

Preventing presenteeism

Presenteeism can have many causes. Staff members could fear missing out on a promotion if they take time off. They may be afraid that work will pile up, or that their colleagues will be overburdened. Health and welfare workers may feel they are putting clients at risk if they miss appointments. If the work is casual or temporary, employees may not have accrued enough sick leave to take a paid break of they be concerned about jeopardising their job security.

A good first step is to ensure sick workers are given enough time to recover. You can also negotiate a return-to-work plan with employees who have had to take time off that allows them to work part-time hours until they are ready to return to full-time duties.

Symptoms of poor work/life balance, such as depression and anxiety, are major underlying causes of presenteeism. As such, it’s a good idea to try to ensure employees are not overburdened by tight deadlines. Even small initiatives that lower stress and improve health – such as lunchtime fitness programs – can help to prevent presenteeism. Likewise, taking steps to ensure that bullying and harassment are not present in your workplace will also help to minimise employee anxiety.

It’s also worth spending some quality one-on-one time with your staff at least once every six months to check that they are still focused and motivated, as well as on board with the direction of the business.

Presenteeism is an often invisible dilemma that can harm your image and profitability. Following these simple tips can stop it in its tracks before it becomes a serious problem.

Tackling engagement issues can work wonders for the overall success of your business. Here's how to motivate your staff to come with you on your business journey.

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