Going to work while not feeling well could be harming the economy. Three experts discuss the impact of presenteeism, when employees come into work but don’t get much done. Rob Hosking, Senior Vice President of the HR and staffing firm Randstad USA, was involved with a national survey which found that over half of the participants always or frequently go in to work when they’re feeling sick. Presenteeism is mostly caused by chronic conditions, like illnesses or injuries, as well as distractions from media and technology.
Todd Whitthorne, President of ACAP Health, discusses the various reasons and fears behind presenteeism. Employees can be afraid that they’re out of sick days or will lose vacation days, feel guilty that someone else will have to take on their responsibilities, or be worried that they’ll lose their jobs by missing too many days of work. But in the long run, coming in to work while unwell can cost the company more time and money. Presenteeism has also been found to affect 35-44 year olds and certain professions, such as flight attendants, more than others.
The role of employers in presenteeism is also important. Whitthorne encourages managers to examine the work culture they are creating in the office and the example they are setting for their employees. In the long run, accommodating employees helps the company more than encouraging them to come to work no matter what.
Chronic illnesses, such as allergies, diabetes, and migraines, are often behind presenteeism, rather than the common cold. Michael Klachefsky, Practice Consultant for Absence Management at Standard Insurance Company, says that the nation’s total cost of productivity loss at work because of chronic conditions can be billions of dollars a year. Mental health is an especially big factor, as it is rarely acknowledged or treated.
Klechevsky says that spending the money to accommodate these chronic conditions, especially under the motivation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ends up saving the company more money by making the employees more productive. The responsibility for saving the money lost on presenteeism falls to the employer and the health culture they create in their workplace, which can potentially improve the overall health of the population.
Find out more about these experts and about presenteeism by following the links below.
- Rob Hosking, Senior Vice President, Randstad USA
- Todd Whitthorne, President, ACAP Health
- Michael Klachefsky, Practice Consultant for Absence Management, Standard Insurance Co.