Presenteeism and the cost to your organisation
While Absenteeism can be obvious and easier to measure, presenteeism is subtle and difficult to pin point. Presenteeism is when an employee is physically at work but is not being productive. Or as Journalist and Commentator Joe Queenan colourfully puts it “Presenteeism is a situation that arises when sick employees drag their forlorn carcasses into the office and waste everyone else’s time by hacking their way through their working day on an empty tank.” Many studies have been conducted on Absenteeism, documenting the levels and costs of it incurred by organisations. But data gathered by Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) from 2000 participants in 17 countries, shows that the levels of absenteeism were less than 10% of total presenteeism levels.
Source: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2012, PwC, 2013, Absence Management Survey by Direct Health Solutions, 2014. Based on a study of 1,872 respondents to the WHO-HPQ (conducted by GCC in 2015), where absenteeism levels were found to be on average around 10% of presenteeism levels.
DFP Commercial Manager Clayton Warren says that many businesses have such a narrow focus on absenteeism because it’s a key performance measure that can be implemented organisation wide. Whereas, in order to have any understanding of presenteeism it requires managers and team leaders to be well tuned to their staff and each individual’s behaviors. “Managers become so caught up in the day to day operations that they fail to see the subtle cues displayed by employees, thereby missing symptoms and causes of presenteeism.”
GCC Insights’ Data Scientist, Dr. Olivia Sackett says “On average, employees in our sample group took about four sick days off each year but when they reported on how many days they lost while on the job, that number shot up to a staggering 57.5 days per yearper employee, which is almost 12 full working weeks – or one quarter of the entire year – that employees admit they really aren’t performing at their best.”
Source: GCC Insights. Based on the responses of 1,872 participants who took GCC’s scientifically validated survey, benchmarked against the World Health Organization ‘Health and Workplace Performance’ Questionnaire (WHO-HPQ). 2015. Liu D. Witters D. In US, poor health tied to big losses for all job types. Gallup. 2013. Smerdon X. Sickies Costing Businesses $33 Billion – Report. Pro Bono Australia. 2014. Stevens M. Rising sick bill ‘costs UK business £29bn a year’. CIPD. 2013.
So what measures can an organisation take to combat presenteeism? A simple place to start is to focus less on the number of days employees are absent and instead turn your attention to the overall wellbeing of your employees and their energy levels at work.
Is presenteeism an issue in your organisation?