All you need to know in 30 seconds
- Presenteeism is where employees feel they must come into work whilst they are unwell, or work longer than their usual hours.
- This can be due to workload, stress, pressure from managers, or in competitive teams or teams that are in caring roles i.e. doctors and nurses, or other work cultures.
- Presenteeism can lead to serious mental health issues due to mounting pressure and stress.
- You are crucial to resolving this issue, so work at changing the attitudes of your team.
- Make sure team members have balanced workloads, and that they feel in control and supported.
- When suffering from illness employees must take time off to recover - this also prevents spread of infection.
All you need to know in detail
Some employees struggle to cope with the day-to-day challenges of the job, stress, cost and budget cutting and departmental restructures - and feel that they must attend work even when they feel ill, or work beyond their usual working hours to meet deadlines. This is known as presenteeism, and it is occurring more often in the NHS today.
A decline in absenteeism may seem to be positive, but not when it shifts to an increase in presenteeism. For instance, if a sick employee is coming into work when they really should be recovering at home, it could expose them to further sickness. It could also lead to serious mental health issues for the person who is trying to do more work. The pressure of pushing themselves to work though ill health or do more hours can lead to exhaustion and can easily mount up, with them ultimately being unable to perform their duties fully, resulting in a loss of productivity for the team as a whole.
As a line manager you are crucial to solving the problem of presenteeism, as employees can often feel under pressure from managers to work whilst they are ill and not let the team down. Quite often there can be a culture within a team to project a certain 'image' or for an individual to feel uncomfortable asking for help and support.
A key point to managing this problem is challenging the attitudes of your team. Make sure your employees have a balanced workload with a sense of control over how it is delivered. Good working relationships are also vital, so have an open door policy in place with your team to help you maintain communication. Employees should be able to take the time off they need to recover, handing over duties to other team members and they need to be aware of this expectation from you as a manager.