The Hazards of Presenteeism in the Workplace

a woman with tired eyes

You may have heard of “absenteeism.” But what about “presenteeism?” Presenteeism is when employees come to work sick—or even just feeling under the weather. And while it may seem like an excellent way to show your boss that you’re a dedicated worker, presenteeism can do more harm than good. Here are five ways presenteeism can devastate your company.

Lower Productivity

Workers who are generally feeling unwell still often go to work. For example, oral problems are the main reasons employees participate in presenteeism. The pain is there, but it’s not enough for them to stay at home and rest.

When an employee is not feeling well, it’s tough to focus on their work—and as a result, their productivity suffers. In addition, if you’re paying your employees by the hour, you’re essentially paying them for two hours of work when they only complete one. Not only is this bad for your bottom line, but it also means that deadlines are more likely to be missed, and projects are more likely to fall behind schedule.

Higher Error Rates

In addition to lowering productivity, being sick can lead to higher error rates. Focusing on the task at hand is more challenging when you’re not feeling well, which can easily lead to mistakes. These errors can be costly and time-consuming to fix, and they can often create even more work for your healthy employees, who now have to pick up the slack. Not only that but customers and clients may not be as forgiving if they receive faulty products or services due to an employee’s error.

Increased Risk of Infection

If someone comes into work sick, there’s a good chance they’ll spread their illness to others. For example, one study found that office workers have a 70% chance of catching a cold from a co-worker. And if just 10% of your employees catch a cold each year, that adds up to more than 2 million lost workdays—at an estimated cost of $20 billion annually! Not only does this cost you in terms of productivity and profitability, but it also means that you could have high turnover rates as employees leave in search of a healthier workplace.

An employee yawning because of tiredness

Missed Deadlines

When employees are out sick, it’s often left up to their healthy co-workers to pick up the slack, resulting in missed deadlines and unfinished projects. This can have a ripple effect throughout your company, as other departments or teams may be unable to do their jobs properly because they’re waiting on something from the team behind schedule. This domino effect can quickly lead to chaos and confusion, ultimately negatively impacting your company’s bottom line.

Increased Healthcare Costs

Last but not least, presenteeism can also lead to increased healthcare costs for you and your employees. When employees come into work sick, they’re more likely to need medical attention—seeing a doctor for antibiotics or heading to the ER with flu-like symptoms. And those costs quickly add up; in fact, one study found that presenteeism costs employers an additional $150 billion per year in healthcare expenses alone! Not only that, but employees who come into work sick are also more likely than their healthy counterparts to get injured on the job—further driving up costs associated with workers’ compensation claims and insurance premiums. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interest—financially and physically—to encourage employees to stay home when they’re ill.

These reasons for presenteeism are all too common. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with them. Here are some of those ways.

Dental Benefits

As stated earlier, dental problems are the main reason employees come to work sick. Dental pain can be excruciating, making it hard to focus on anything else.

Offer dental benefits such as free implants if you want to encourage your employees to stay home when they’re sick. Dental implants can help offset future dental costs because it helps prevent oral cancer and periodontitis. Furthermore, it also helps improve an individual’s smile, boosting confidence. You can offer your employees many more dental benefits if you want them to avoid presenteeism.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Another way to encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick is by offering flexible work arrangements. This could include allowing them to work from home, come in late, or leave early.

Flexible work arrangements show that you’re willing to accommodate your employees’ needs, which can go a long way in fostering a positive and productive working relationship. Plus, it can help reduce stress levels and increase job satisfaction, which can lead to fewer absences.

Paid Time Off

Lastly, offer paid time off (PTO) for illness. This will ensure that your employees don’t have to choose between their health and job.

Paid time off is becoming more common in the United States; nearly 60% of employers offer some form of paid sick leave. So, if you want to stay competitive, offering PTO is an excellent way to do so.

While presenteeism may seem like a minor issue, it can have significant consequences for your business. From missed deadlines to increased healthcare costs, presenteeism can take a toll on your company in many ways. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick. By taking these steps, you can help reduce the negative impact of presenteeism and keep your business running smoothly.

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