Presenteeism – what does it say about your workplace?
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Presenteeism – what does it say about your workplace?

Presenteeism –

it’s a term that’s used to address when an employee continues to attend work even when ill or distracted which can be detrimental to productivity. It’s when a teammate is physically present, but in reality – their attention and energy are absent. While sickness or concern saps away at their concentration and ability to fulfil tasks to the highest potential, the bottom line is that they can tick off work attendance.


Presenteeism comes at a cost to employers and can be harmful to the physical health and emotional wellbeing of employees, however, why does it continue to be rife in workplaces? We look at what presenteeism says about your workplace, the culture and the environment.

Is there a deep-rooted culture to ‘show up’?

If employees feel under pressure to attend work while sick or believe that there is an expectation for them to do so, is this a sign that your work culture needs to change?

Employers must nurture employees and instil into them that health is a primary priority, even at work.

Employees must be able to establish a safe channel of communication with employers to openly discuss personal matters, including sickness, and to do so objectively and without judgment.

If there’s a strict ‘show up’ attitude in the workplace, erase it with compassion.

Inflexible working


The pandemic was a tipping point for businesses with no flexible working arrangements in place. While offices were instructed to close their doors and workforces were required to work remotely, this ultimately blended work into a personal setting.

This helped a proportion of workers better manage their mental health and physical wellbeing, although reverting to full-time office work could likely have the opposite effect.

As such, hybrid working may offer a happy medium to employers and employees alike and inadvertently reduce presenteeism.

The Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study by Vitality found that businesses are losing thousands of hours of productivity.

  • Employees lost 14.6% of working hours
    • This represents a loss of 38 productive days per employee, per year
    • This is worse with lower income and younger workers

This can be attributed to a range of reasons, such as financial concerns, unhealthy lifestyles, and work-related stress.

  • 35% of employees say that they sleep less than seven hours per night
  • 42% have problems with the quality of their sleep
  • 16% of employees earning less than £20,000 suffer from depression and for the £20,000 to £30,000 income category, the risk remains high at 10%
  • 56% suffer from work-related stress
  • 35% felt unwell because of work-related stress
  • Financial concerns are very common, with 51% of employees reporting it

Presenteeism can be attributed to any factor that draws employee focus away during working hours, such as sickness, stress, or financial worries.

It can cost employers money and lead to the deterioration of employee health if they are not granted a time out from work or made to feel as though they are able to request leave. Presenteeism is the counterpart to absenteeism which is when employees seek leave without good reason.

Keith Tully is a partner at Real Business Rescue, part of Begbies Traynor Group. Real Business Rescue is at the forefront of delivering corporate insolvency and business restructuring services to company directors in financial distress.

How Wurkplace can help

Here at Wurkplace we have a team of extremely qualified and experienced Human Resources consultants who can advise on every point of the recruitment process to ensure that you find the right candidate. We also have an array of template documents created so that you don’t have to!

If you need support or guidance, talk to one of our experts today – You can use our easy online contact form, or give us a call on: 0330 400 5490.

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