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The growing issue
of ‘presenteeism’

The growing issue of ‘presenteeism’

Published: 18th June 2019
Area: Corporate & Commercial
Author: Lubna Laheria

‘Presenteeism’ is when employees feel the need to stay at work longer than required, or come to work when they are sick. It’s not a new occurrence, but it has become more common in recent years.

Insecurity is a large part of why presenteeism arises in the workplace, suggesting many employees believe they need to prove themselves to management by showing an unnecessary level of dedication. This may stem from an outdated office culture, where those who prioritise work over other aspects of their life are seen as more valuable than those employees who foster a good work-life balance.

As well as this, the digital age allows us all to work wherever and whenever we choose. It can be hard to switch off at the end of the day, with every email notification adding to the anxiety.

Reviewing workplace policies is one way that employers can support their employees. The concept of presenteeism is more widely recognised than ever, and it must be considered when contracts and policies are created in the first instance. Reinforcing the idea that taking time off work due to illness is not something to feel guilty about is vital. Sending emails after office hours needs to be carefully monitored to avoid misuse. These small changes can make a significant difference to people’s mindsets, giving them much needed reassurance.

Training is another important part of tackling presenteeism. Line managers need to know the warning signs, such as unbalanced workloads among teams and decreases in motivation leading to lowered productivity. That way, action can be taken early on, keeping the workforce happy and secure.

As always, clear and open communication is the best solution. Showing employees empathy is a great way to improve both internal morale and external reputation. People who don’t feel forced into working produce better quality results, and that speaks louder than any email sent at nine o’clock at night.

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