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Presenteeism; is your business prepared this winter?

The clocks have gone back and autumn is officially in full swing, bringing with it an outbreak of coughs, colds and general cold-weather-blues to your workforce.

Usually, when an employee is feeling unwell, they take the day off to rest and to avoid spreading their illness elsewhere. But in the face of austerity cuts, research shows that staff are more reluctant to take time off and are turning up for work when they ought to stay at home. This trend has been dubbed sickness absence, or presenteeism, and is on the rise in the UK.

A report compiled by the Work Foundation has revealed that presenteeism could account for a higher loss in productivity than sickness absence. This is something an employer should bear in mind, considering more and more people are feeling pressured to attend work whilst unwell, particularly those in companies with a culture of longer working hours or where operational demands take priority over employee wellbeing.

This has an understandably negative impact on office morale, and yet almost three out of five organisations reporting an increase in staff presenteeism have not done anything to discourage it.

A root problem here is that organisations are failing to actively discourage presenteeism and are neglecting to implement a wellbeing strategy for their staff, which can lead to serious problems further down the line.

It may seem good that your employees are so willing to work, but those who come in whilst feeling unwell can be held accountable for longer recovery periods, because viruses are continually brought back into the workplace; creating a sickness cycle. Presenteeism can refer to mental illness too, where an employee comes to work but is so emotionally distracted that their productivity suffers as a result.

Unfortunately, presenteeism can be much harder to track than outright absenteeism, but there are steps you can take to recognise and discourage sickness presence in your workplace:

  • Create and maintain a staff wellbeing strategy.
  • Get to know your staff, so you can easily spot when somebody is feeling out of sorts.
  • Have policies that support taking the necessary time off for illness.

Harris Law can provide your business with a comprehensive wellbeing strategy, including a sickness policy that actively supports sick employees and discourages them from attending work if they feel genuinely unwell. Staff will feel supported and valued, resulting in higher productivity levels and improve overall office morale.

Contact us on 01803 861086 or alternatively email us HERE.

Written by Tayler Waldock on behalf of Harris Law