While absenteeism among employees directly affects productivity and incurs costs within the company, presenteeism may affect your business just as much. Presenteeism is defined as the practice of employees reporting to work despite being ill or overly fatigued causing them to be ineffective at their jobs. In fact, employees who make an average of 4 sick days a year can each waste time at work accumulating up to 57.5 days a year by being present yet unproductive at work.
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As an employer, there is a great need to spot the signs of presenteeism before it can cause damage to your business. Aside from reduced productivity and missed deadlines, other symptoms to watch out for include making uncharacteristic mistakes, reduced punctuality, and seeming tired or sick at work.
Once you’ve identified the problem, the next step would be to carry out specific measures to treat and prevent presenteeism in your workforce.
Revisit your Leave policies.
Your employees may not take the day off when they’re sick because your policies discourage them to do so. If presenteeism exists in your organization, take time to revisit and reassess your Time Off policies. Giving your team enough Leave credits is essential for their physical and mental wellness, encouraging a harmonious work-life balance that many employees look for in a company. Furthermore, you don’t want to risk the health of the rest of your workforce by forcing a single employee to work with a potentially infectious disease.
Consider alternative work arrangements.
Each employee can have his or her own reasons for committing presenteeism at work. He or she may not opt to take the time off for fear of work to keep piling up or simply for being burdened with office work and caregiving responsibilities at home.
If most of your employees are experiencing these dilemmas, you may consider other work arrangements, such as implementing flexible work hours or providing telecommuting or work-from-home options. Such alternatives provide excellent advantages both for you and your employees, but it’s also necessary to consider its disadvantages before carrying out such policy.
Create or enhance employee wellbeing programs.
Revisit your employee health benefits and check for what you can do to improve them. You may consider offering extended health benefits or implementing Employee and Family Assistance (EFAP) programs in your benefits package. Don’t forget to let your employees know about their benefits and how they can access them so they can utilize them well too.
Aside from offering an excellent health benefits package, you can also further implement a health-conscious workplace by providing wellness programs and healthy food options for your employees. Many companies are offering free gym memberships, office yoga sessions, and an onsite clinic complete with the basic tools, such as a blood pressure monitor and a pulse oximetry sensor.
Walk the talk.
Set a good example and avoid coming to work sick! Employees may feel guilty seeing how their boss makes an effort to be present despite being ill that they are entitled to follow your lead, but you should know better that this is bad practice at the end of the day. Also make sure that your managers are not showing signs of presenteeism themselves, especially when they work directly with your employees. When you see someone who does not look fit to work, don’t hesitate to send them home. Let them know that it’s okay to take a break and to focus on oneself every once in a while.
While making sure that the business runs a smooth-sailing course to success is of paramount importance, taking time to check the pulse of your workforce equally helps to reach that goal. At the end of the day, your employees are only humans who also need time to be their best selves for your company and for their own wellbeing.