Presenteeism refers to the problem of employees being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning, leading to a loss in productivity. We’re talking about people coming to work even when sick and trying to carry on despite their symptoms.
Extensive research has proven what your common sense has probably guessed by now – presenteeism is much costlier problem than its productivity-reducing counterpart, absenteeism. And, unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always apparent: You know when someone doesn’t show up for work, but you often can’t tell when—or how much—illness or a medical condition is hindering someone’s performance.
Many of the medical problems that result in presenteeism are relatively benign. What brings people to work despite being ill are conditions like seasonal allergies, asthma, sinus problems, migraines and other kinds of headaches, back pain, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and depression. These illnesses affects both the quantity of work and its quality too. Migraine and untreated allergies impede concentration. The discomfort of gastrointestinal disorders (very common but seldom-talked-about ailments) such as irritable bowel syndrome acid reflux disease are a persistent distraction. Depression causes, among other things, fatigue and irritability, which hinder people’s ability to work together.
Unfortunately all these conditions typically occur during peak working years and often go untreated. Organizations need to take cognizance of this phenomenon and introduce initiatives to reduce this. And in current times when job security is not something that the corporate world is known for Presenteeism at a record high ‘cos not coming to work is not something bosses look kindly at.