Just because an employee is physically in the office doesn’t mean that person is actively contributing. Not only that, but an employee who is sick, exhausted, or distraught can easily bring down the productivity of others as well.

Businesses who once worried about the impact of absenteeism on their organizations are now also worrying about the damaging effects of presenteeism.


It’s not like it used to be

Back in the day, productivity was easy to measure. Either an employee showed up or they didn’t. And if they weren’t on site, they probably weren’t working.

But today’s workplaces are more complex. We now have technology that allows employees to keep up with work remotely, and companies are starting to realize that simply because their employees are dragging themselves into the office doesn’t mean they’re being productive or efficient.

Measuring productivity in this environment is tricky, and weighing the impact of presenteeism on overall company performance can be even more difficult. That said, it’s been estimated that presenteeism costs companies somewhere between 150 and 250 billion dollars annually. That’s a lot of cash.

The good news is there are things you can do to address the issues of absenteeism and presenteeism in your workplace. And in doing so, you just might also improve stress levels, productivity and your bottom line.

Here are 4 ways to get started:


Assess your staffing levels

Illness happens to the best of us, and never when we expect it. Running lean is one thing, but If one person on the team calling in sick means your business can’t function, that’s a big problem. And if your team is constantly overworked, they’re more likely to get sick. Which results in – you guessed it – more people out of the office.

Have you gotten in the habit of leaving positions unfilled and/or constantly asking the employees you do have to take on more? Maybe it’s time do some hiring.

Skimping on staff may serve you well in the short term, but if you want a happy, healthy, and fully present workforce, you’ll need to make sure you have enough team members to take on everything you want to get done.


Offer sick time. And mean it.

Discouraging staff from staying home when they are sick may seem like a cost saving idea, but the reality of having a sick person at work is rarely productive or pleasant. It can also lead to a string of employees ending up sick instead of just one. Talk about lost productivity!

Foster a culture that supports the use of sick days rather than punishing employees for using them, and send unwell employees home.

When an employee calls in sick, express genuine concern for their well-being rather than demanding they get back to work as soon as possible.


Embrace Paid Time Off policies

As families struggle to balance the demands of work and life, paid time off is quickly becoming the preferred alternative to sick days.

PTO is time off that employees can use for any reason. When employees have a bank of PTO to use as they wish, they can take time off to see a doctor for a preventative exam or stay home and rest before an illness intensifies.

Employees may also feel more comfortable about taking time off to address a family member's illness, stay home with a sick child, care for an elderly parent, or resolve a personal issue that would otherwise hinder their in-office productivity.


Focus on employee wellbeing

Wellbeing means more than giving everyone a fitbit and turning them loose. True wellbeing encompasses physical, mental, and financial health. A workplace that promotes employee wellbeing rather than solely focusing on fitness or profit is better for employees and employers alike.

Tale a look at your overall approach to employee wellness. Is it just lip service or is it woven into your organizational culture?

· Evaluate your current health insurance plan. Are high deductibles and co-pays discouraging employees from visiting the doctor for preventive care?

· Do you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place to address mental health and stress concerns?

· Are staff workloads manageable or is your team too run-down to perform?

· What is your turnover like? Do your employees stick around, look for advancement, and refer their friends? Or do you need to install a revolving door?

· Is your compensation structure competitive in your market and industry? Are you relieving financial stress for your employees, or are you adding to it?

You don’t need to take on all of these issues at once, but committing to workplace wellbeing is just plain good for business.

Healthy employees have lover levels of both absenteeism and presenteeism. Even better, they have higher levels of engagement and retention, and an easier time recruiting talent.

Now doesn’t that sound like an investment worth making?


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