Presenteeism…a “not so apparent” cost

November 17, 2015

Employee Benefit & HR News

We are all familiar with the term “absenteeism” and its effect on productivity when employees don’t show up to do their jobs. However, “presenteeism”, a term given to the situation when an employee reports to work when ill or not operating at their usual level of performance, costs employers even more.

Unlike absenteeism, the costs of presenteeism are harder to calculate.  It may be difficult to tell when an employee’s performance is suffering because of illness or other medical conditions.  Presenteeism results not only from being acutely ill with something like a cold and flu.  It can also be the result of home life stress or chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, alcoholism, migraines and asthma.

When employees report to work sick and contagious they also risk infecting other employees and customers.  This increases the degree of lost productivity. The estimated cost of presenteeism to employers ranges from $150 billion to $250 billion annually.

Strategies to combat presenteeism include implementing paid sick days encouraging employees to stay home when ill.     Also, reviewing company policies to be sure nothing exists that makes an employee feel compelled to come to work sick.  Other strategies include providing telecommuting options, corporate wellness programs and other company programs promoting healthy work life balance, carry over of unused sick days as a reward for working hard and cross-training of employees so others can perform work functions when a co-worker needs to be out.

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About Rick Ewers

Mr. Ewers is an analytical consultant providing financial analysis, vendor evaluations, market & compliance analysis, as well as national industry trending for group employers.

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