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According to recent research from Canada Life Group Insurance, ‘presenteeism’ is still a very real issue for UK employers. In fact, 9 out 10 staff said that they have gone into work whilst feeling ill. Though some might say that their dedication to the job is admirable, it’s something that can cause as many problems to employers as absenteeism. 

Presenteesim Is Often Counter-Productive

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why having sick people at work might cause issues: coughs, sniffles, and sickness can easily be spread amongst staff, and before you know it, you could have a situation on your hands that is starting to look distinctly like an epidemic. One colleague’s ‘sharing’ their germs can mean a whole host of ‘lucky’ recipients all fall down the week after…

Company & National Culture Could Be Factors Here…

These issues could perhaps be linked to traditional British culture. We like to adopt a stiff upper lip, and just get on with things. But sometimes it’s less to do with our national culture and more to do with people feeling guilty or fearful of being absent for any period of time. 

Of course though, there are certain things that you can do as an employer to make sure that presenteeism doesn’t knock you off course…..

4 Great Ways To Combat Presenteeism In Your Business

1. Ensure that you have a sickness and absence policy that’s fit for purpose: They should focus on supporting your staff as well as achieving your goals and objectives. A policy can rarely cover every instance of sickness or absence, however you can use it to set expectations on what you want team members to do in certain situations e.g do you let people work from home when they’re a bit ‘coldy’ but otherwise happy and strong enough to function (but when they are still likely to spread germs) ? Or do you have a firm ‘go-home-log-off- and-get-better’ stance?

2. Lead From The Front: When you or a member of the senior team are ill, make sure the policy guidelines are followed correctly – it’s the best way for behaviours to become part of the cultural norm.

3. Address workload issues: 28% of employees who took part in the study said that their workload was too great to call in sick. It may be time for you to take a look at your wider practices, and assess where problems might exist that need to be addressed. For example, is the distribution of the workload amongst the team fair and correct? Is there low value, frustrating work that can be farmed out elsewhere? And crucially, is the total work required for a project by an individual or team realistic in the time given? All this of course can only be brought to light if employees feel able to raise the red flag in the first place and let you know when things are getting too much…

4. Consider Mental As Well As Physical Sickness: 80% of staff said that they would not take time off work for stress-related illnesses. It’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of supporting staff with mental health issues, and tackling the stigma that often exists around non-physical health and wellbeing. When creating your sickness and absence policies, it’s vital that you consider how you’ll be playing your part in creating positive change.

If you have issues in your workplace surrounding sickness absence, then it may be time to call in the professionals. We can assess the effectiveness of your existing policies and procedures, ensure that you’re compliant with relevant legislation, and help you to move forward towards exemplary leadership.

Get in touch via or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about how we can help you on the road to employee magic!

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