Five ways your business can reduce presenteeism in the workplace

Is presenteeism counterproductive? In this article, we look at five key ways organizations can reduce the impact of presenteeism, also exploring the wider benefits on workplace culture and staff satisfaction.

5 mins read
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about 2 months ago

There is no doubt that absenteeism – regular, unplanned staff absences – is bad for business. But what most employers don’t often realize is that the opposite, referred to as presenteeism, can be just as harmful to your workplace.

What is presenteeism?

Presenteeism is often cited as one of the biggest threats to workplace productivity. It is the phenomenon of employees turning up to work when they are not fully fit, either physically or mentally, and thus performing below their optimal level. These individuals are trying to fulfill their jobs, but due to health problems or other circumstances, can’t work at full capacity.

It can have negative consequences for both the individual and the organization, such as reduced productivity, lower quality of work, increased stress, and higher health risks.

There are various factors that cause presenteeism, such as excessive workload, job insecurity, lack of sick leave, or a culture that rewards long hours and discourages taking breaks. Without a clear separation between work and home – further exacerbated by the introduction of hybrid working – professionals may find it difficult to disconnect and set clear boundaries.

This lack of separation can lead to longer working hours, increased workloads, and, most importantly, difficulty in taking breaks or even time off.

How to tackle presenteeism in your workforce

So, how do you spot the signs of presenteeism, and how do you broach the subject tactfully among your workforce? Here are five ways to banish presenteeism for good:

Recognize the symptoms

Employees with health problems, especially those related to mental health, often feel an inability to disclose their feelings to their manager. At the same time, those in managerial positions are rarely trained to effectively support employees who are struggling.

It’s essential that managers are educated to some degree to be able to notice when employees are showing signs of stress or mental health problems. Not only that, managers need to feel confident and equipped to have open and supportive conversations with employees about their health and overall satisfaction levels while at work.

With almost three in five employees saying they would take less time off work if their employer enhanced the health and wellbeing services available to them, this evidence supports the value of reviewing existing policies and practices. Work-life balance, menopause support, and an ‘open-door’ policy all help build a culture that prioritizes people.

Evaluate your well-being policy

Professionals will often still come to work if they are experiencing long wait times for a doctor’s appointment or if they are unable to get an appointment outside of working hours. This not only impacts the recovery time but can also lead to a build-up of stress while waiting to be seen or awaiting the results of a diagnosis. Ill health, such as colds and coughs, can also be quickly spread around the workplace.

A strategic well-being policy that offers appropriate support can help reduce the impact of presenteeism. Programs that promote good mental, physical, financial, and social health can help prevent illnesses and reduce the impact of long-term conditions. Whether it's discounts to be used on fitness equipment, access to yoga classes, or mental well-being initiatives, a clear plan to help employees can lead to a happier and healthier workforce.

Lead by example

If managers go to work when they are ill, their teams are likely to feel they have to do the same. Leaders need to set a good example and stay at home when they are unwell – especially given flexible working policies are now fully implemented.

Presenteeism often occurs when employees feel they can’t afford to take time off due to heavy workloads, upcoming deadlines or not wanting to burden their colleagues with their absence. It’s important that managers know how much work employees have on, so they are able to help manage it.

Holding frequent one-to-ones or team meetings can help highlight if employees are in need of any support – be it with their work or well-being. This should help reduce any work-related stress and promote healthy working practices to those making a return to work after a prolonged absence.

Clear communication of company culture

Clarify with your workforce about where the company stands on employees coming into work ill, also ensuring a sickness reporting procedure is outlined.

Clearly define and communicate your policies, such as sick pay and time off allowances, and allow employees to ask any questions they may have. It’s also important to communicate the impact that unwell employees coming into work can have on fellow employees, customers, and the wider business.

When you’re clear on where the company stands when it comes to illness and working patterns, employees will feel comfortable staying home and recovering when they’re ill – rather than fearing any potential consequences of doing so.

Empower and trust your employees

It’s the people working in organizations that make the difference. They have the ability to grow business, increase engagement, and enhance reputations. By creating positive and supportive work environments, where employees feel they can take time off when needed, presenteeism can be reduced.

By empowering employees in the workplace, leaders can directly enhance their psychological safety – the belief that they can speak up, take risks, and make mistakes without fear of negative consequences. Employees who feel psychologically safe are more likely to seek help, share ideas, and collaborate with others, which can improve their health and performance.

If presenteeism isn’t already on your radar, it should be. Making appropriate changes to absence policies and aspects of workplace culture will help ensure your workforce is healthier and more motivated. For businesses, an investment in people through good quality employee benefits could be just what workers need to eradicate presenteeism.

If you are searching for a talented professional to join your team, or looking to embark on a new career opportunity, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.

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Workplace monitoring: guidance for your organisation
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​In the past, workplace monitoring was relatively simplistic: employers relied on visual supervision and basic timekeeping systems, and the concept of privacy was limited.

Fast forward to the digital age. Employee monitoring has reached new levels of sophistication and become common practice for employers seeking to boost productivity, enhance security, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Improved productivity and deeper insights

With the advancement of technology, including GPS tracking, computer monitoring software, and biometric identification systems, surveillance can provide employers with detailed insights into employee activities and performance.

One of the key benefits of employee monitoring is the ability to track and improve productivity levels. By monitoring employees' activities, employers can identify inefficiencies, analyse workflow processes, and provide targeted feedback to enhance performance. This data-driven approach allows companies to optimise their operations, allocate resources effectively, and ultimately improve their bottom line.

Monitoring can also help employers identify and address issues such as time theft, excessive breaks, and unauthorised activities in the workplace. With real-time monitoring tools, employers can detect irregularities and take corrective actions promptly, therefore improving accountability and integrity among employees.

Employee monitoring can also aid in compliance with regulations and industry standards. By keeping a close eye on electronic communications, websites visited, and files accessed, employers can ensure that employees adhere to data protection laws, maintain confidentiality, and comply with company policies. This proactive approach minimises the risk of data breaches and security incidents and also protects the company from potential legal liabilities.

Balancing surveillance and ethics

Despite the clear advantages of employee monitoring, it is crucial for organisations to approach this practice with sensitivity and respect for staff privacy. As a matter of course, employers should establish clear policies regarding monitoring practices, communicate openly with employees about the purpose and scope of monitoring, and ensure transparency in the use of monitoring tools.

Prioritise the protection of sensitive employee data by implementing robust security measures, restricting access to monitoring data, and complying with data protection regulations such as GDPR. These considerations can ease employees’ minds about any surveillance and even instil appreciation for such measures. After all, workplace security is in everyone’s best interests.

Download our best practice guide to employee monitoring

Our eBook, ‘Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices’ provides insight into how employers might best integrate employee monitoring into their organisation, and considerations for what the impact may be on employees. With opinion from thought leaders, it addresses everything from pre-employment checks to the tracking tech that might be right your organisation.

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Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices
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​Employee monitoring can help ensure productivity and accountability among employees, as managers can track their work progress and identify areas where improvement is needed. Monitoring enhances data security by detecting and preventing unauthorised access or data breaches and additionally, it enables you to adhere to regulatory and compliance requirements, reducing legal risks. 

The key thing to remember is that workplace surveillance is perfectly acceptable, as long as you can legally justify your reasons, and it is always better to be ‘overt’, not ‘covert’.  

A report shows that despite normality returning to working life post-pandemic, demand for employee surveillance software is 49% above 2019 levels. 

Our eBook, ‘Employee monitoring: a guide to best practices’, provides insight from top experts in the field including:    

Keith Rosser, Director of Group Risk and Reed Screening, Reed 

Hayfa Mohdzaini, Senior Research Adviser, CIPD

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How to become a marketing executive

​Are you wondering how to become a marketing executive? This article provides you with all the information you need to start your career journey.

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A marketing executive is a key member of a marketing team and is often responsible for developing and implementing marketing campaigns to promote the company's products or services. They work closely with other teams, such as sales, product development, and advertising, to ensure cohesive messaging and strategic alignment. Marketing executives analyze market trends, conduct market research, and utilize various channels, including digital platforms, traditional media, and events, to reach target audiences and achieve marketing objectives.

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Digital marketing executive

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Brand marketing executive

Concentrates on building and managing the brand’s identity, including brand messaging, visual assets, and brand consistency across all touchpoints.

Content marketing executive

Creates and distributes valuable, relevant content to attract and engage target audiences, often through blog posts, articles, videos, and infographics.

Product marketing executive

Works closely with product development teams to understand product features, benefits, and target markets, and develops marketing strategies to drive product adoption and sales.

What do you need to become a marketing executive

Here are the marketing executive qualifications that you will need to obtain for the role:

Academic qualifications

While a degree in marketing, business, or a related field is beneficial, practical experience and demonstrable skills are often equally important, so a degree is not always necessary.

Professional qualifications

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Skills and experience

Key skills for marketing executives include creativity, strategic thinking, attention to detail, and proficiency in digital marketing tools and platforms.

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As businesses continue to prioritize digital marketing and data-driven decision-making, the demand for skilled marketing executives is expected to remain high. Experienced professionals may advance to senior management positions, from senior marketing executive, content marketing manager, head of digital marketing, up to marketing director. Continuing education, staying updated on industry trends, and networking within the marketing community can enhance career prospects and open new opportunities.

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