What’s the harm of presenteeism?
Up until recently businesses worried about absenteeism – employees calling in sick when they’re not, just to get out of work for the day. Following a push from employers to reduce the level of absenteeism, the pendulum has swung the other way and we’re now more likely than ever to attend work when we’re really not up to the job – this is known as presenteeism.
A study in the USA found employees take an average of four days off sick each year. It was also found that these same employees were still in work but underperforming due to their health for as many as 57.5 days a year i. There are many reasons why people go into work when they’re not feeling 100%, but what harm is the culture of presenteeism actually causing?
Why do many employees suffer from the troubling condition of presenteeism?
Do you turn up to work even when you’re feeling unwell? We took a look at some of the reasons so many people do…
The nature of your job
The nature of your job may mean taking a sick day creates extra work for you and the people around you; whether it’s finding someone to step in at short notice, filling out paperwork or the extra planning you’ll need to do. And it’s all a lot harder when you’re not well. On top of that, some companies require back-to-work interviews for just one or two days off. All this can make it seem like it’s less hassle if you go just go in.
If you don’t work, you don’t get paid
Although many countries have a minimum amount of employee sick days, many don’t. And if you’re a freelancer, self-employed or on a casual contract, you also risk missing out on pay if you’re unable to work. You might be able to take the hit for an occasional day, but what if you need an extended period of sick leave? It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan – just in case.
You’re not physically sick
If you’re suffering with a mental health issue, it can feel even harder to take time off. Common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and workplace stress are increasingly to blame for people going to work when they’re just not up to it.
Much of that is down to stigma and a desire to hide mental health difficulties from colleagues and managers. Mental health issues are invisible and can be harder for others to pick up on. This can contribute to the idea that, because you’re physically fit, you must be feeling well, too. You might feel guilty for not being in work, while depression and anxiety themselves make it worse and can convince you that you don’t deserve time off.