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3 ways to prevent presenteeism

Wednesday January 13, 2021


Posted by Andrew Walker on Wednesday January 13, 2021

Presenteeism - where employees are at work but aren’t functioning at 100% because of health or other issues – is a widespread problem.

Many employers are more focused on reducing absence rates. However, in the short-term, presenteeism could be costing your business dearly in lost productivity; and in the long-term, it’s storing up serious health problems for your employees.

So what steps can you take to reduce presenteeism at your organisation?

Sick pay

Some roles don’t include paid sick leave, meaning that employees who fall ill have to rely on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Currently this is worth £95.85 a week, which in many cases isn’t enough to cover basic expenses like housing, food and utilities. Therefore, some employees have no choice but to work when ill since they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay.

Organisations that want to do the right thing should consider their sick pay position in a new light. Are we treating everybody fairly? Is this what our business stands for? Are we doing enough to protect the wellbeing of our greatest asset: our employees?

Post-pandemic, staff want their employer to do more than just pay lip-service to the idea of looking after their people. Employees will not only be more engaged and loyal to a company that focuses on their wellbeing, but productivity and performance will also increase.

Provide healthcare benefits

People will often come into work if they are experiencing long waiting times for a GP appointment or if they aren’t able to get an appointment outside of working hours. This not only adds to recovery times, but stress can build up while waiting for a diagnosis.

Giving access to an online GP service means you can provide your people with quick, same-day GP appointments and immediate access to prescriptions. This reduces recovery time and employees are able to return to work quickly without the stress of waiting for a face-to-face appointment.

Don’t forget mental health support

Remember that not every disability is visible. Employees may be suffering from conditions which are not obvious from the outside but have a severe impact on daily life and can be difficult to discuss in a work context. Mental health conditions are especially hard to identify, and fear of stigma or lack of understanding may prevent sufferers from seeking help.

But a large-scale study of UK workplaces in 2018 revealed that mental health problems are a significant driver of productivity loss, costing the UK as a whole the equivalent of £38bn. It’s in employers’ interest to prevent mental health problems from developing or improve management of an existing condition.

You can help by providing flexible support; for example an EAP helpline. Employees can access the EAP confidentially, via their own device, in the privacy of their home – or indeed anywhere they feel comfortable. EAPs offer advice on a huge range of complex issues, from mental health to debt advice to addiction.

Talking the talk on wellbeing isn’t enough; the proof of the pudding is whether employees feel able to prioritise their health over work when they are unwell, by taking adequate time off to recover. With the right support, your people can keep performing at their best, day after day.

To find out how the right wellbeing support can improve productivity, check out our Wellbeing Hub, with access to reports, blogs, resource library for employees and more.

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