Presenteeism Prevention

Presenteeism is defined as individuals being physically present at work, but because of ill-health, stress, overwhelm or exhaustion, they are not functioning at their full capacity.

In Australia, presenteeism costs us more than $26billion a year! WOW!

How has presenteeism become so expensive? Why does it impact organisations so much? How has it become more of a detriment to productivity and performance than absenteeism?

We all understand the fact that smartphones need to be turned off and on every now and then, and computers need to be rebooted, and often when the printer jams if you pull out the plug for a while it seems to fix itself. Well us humans are the same. Sometimes (more than sometimes!!!) we need a break. We need to reboot. We need to unplug!    Click to tweet

Of course every individual, team and company are different, but here are three main reasons why presenteeism has started to impact businesses much more.

1. Budget cuts, mergers, and tough competition has meant that resources are limited and workloads are high. The thought of taking time off becomes stressful in itself, knowing that what you will come back to is a complete mess.

2. When good job opportunities are not as prevalent as they used to be, people worry that taking time off will damage their reputations and perhaps lead to losing their jobs.

3. The rise of mental health issues in the workplace has fuelled the rise in presenteeism. Stigma around this topic is still a big issue and fear of being labelled as not being able to cope has meant early signs are ignored, which can lead to much greater issues.

Of course, an even bigger problem is that some people believe you are not truly committed and dedicated to your job unless you come into work no matter what the circumstances. They see it as a badge of honour.

But the reality is very different in regards to performance and output.


Presenteeism Causes:


1. Increased Absences: If you come to work when you are ill, you can increase the number of overall absences because you spread your germs to your colleagues.

2. More Accidents: When you are not well, your attention is reduced and exhaustion sets in, you are more likely to have accidents which can impact your ability to work, can impact your ability to contribute to your team, and impact the workers compensation premiums of your company.

3. Cranky To Colleagues: We think we are doing OK, but when we are physically or mentally unwell, we often have a short-fuse, can be more sarcastic than usual, and can become quite toxic in our teams.

4. Customer Service: Yes you can fake it till you make it, but tone of voice, body language and facial expressions are impacted when you are unwell and customers pick up on it pretty quickly. This leads to more customer complaints, lowered word-of-mouth referrals, and a loss of business.


Preventing presenteeism is a multi-faceted strategy that incorporates the following three elements:


1. Workspace People connect and are energised in well-planned work environments that allow them to thrive.

Action Item Example: Create spaces that allow for deep work without distractions.


2. Policy Realistic frameworks support & encourage enthusiasm, optimism and growth for leaders and their teams.

Action Item Example: Create a structure that encourages (and reminds) team members to take their annual leave.


3. Education Professional Development Is Where The Magic Happens!

Action Item Example: Invest in experts who can regularly educate your team members on how to incorporate movement, better nutrition and self-care strategies so they are rejuvenated, focused and productive at work.


Caring about your most valuable asset – your people – will have a positive impact on staff retention, absenteeism and presenteeism ….all the factors that make up a thriving work culture.    Click to tweet

If you would like to see how you rank against other businesses of your size, then click below to take this free Thriving Work Culture Diagnostic.



It is a quick and easy tool that allows you to see where you are doing really well, and where you may need to fill the gap.

Preventing presenteeism so you can create a thriving work culture is one of the most impactful strategies that you can focus on as we look to the future of work.    Click to tweet

Be Well / Love Life / Heidi Dening / Founder and CEO / Workable Wellness

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