Word of the day and serendipity – ‘presenteeism’

Staff present but not engaged, want some solutions?

allergy-web-pixabayIt is wonderful  how the world conspires to send you a message.

Today when driving to an appointment I heard the word of the day for my local radio station – PRESENTEEISM.

Listeners were asked to guess its meaning.

What would be your guess? Perhaps

  • one who is present in the moment
  • one who missed the moment through inattention

It was a new one for me and as I like to extend my vocabulary I listened with interest and also promptly looked it up when I connected to the ‘virtual world’.

So for those of you like me who haven’t come across this word, presenteeism is defined as

  1. the practice of coming to work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc.,often resulting in reduced productivity.
  2. the practice of working long hours at a job without the real need to do so.

Quality not quantity is what matters in the workplace

In my role as CEO I have been a strong advocate of not ‘working from home or in the office’ when you were sick, as it helps no one and sends all the wrong messages.

In addition I am not a boss who believes that someone working long hours equals the most productive team member, sometimes I believe quite the opposite.

Because of these long-held views I instantly warmed to this new descriptor of a trend I’ve seen often in the workplace and have had to work hard to counteract and change.

All well and good a new word learnt for the day – job done move right along. Ordinarily YES but then the word surfaced again in the same day.

Dispelling workplace myths on working no matter what!

My next encounter was in a book I picked up to read ‘Flying Solo how to go it alone in business’ because it had sitting on my shelf for about 6 weeks. The book needed to be returned to my local library.

The book challenges the myth that ‘working long hours without the real need to do so’ is beneficial, believing that time is more valuable than quality of work. Now there is a dangerous workplace myth.

These two unconnected introductions to my new word of the day made me stop and ponder this whole issue of being there in body but not in mind or engaged with ones work.

Why combat Presenteeism in your workplace?

The first and most compelling reason is that it has a negative impact on productivity in the workplace. Some going even further to say presenteeism costs businesses more than absenteeism (yes I know we should have been able to guess the meaning of the word of the day – easy to say now I’ve defined the word and presented its counterpart).

In Australia we hear much about those ‘chuck or pulled  a sickie’ (yes we love to abbreviate) but you never hear about the cost of presenteeism – wonder why that is?

The problem with ‘presenteeism’ its not so easy to spot as the person is ‘present’ but not actually firing on all cylinders – how do you assess that?

The issue of turning up and trying to do you best might be laudable but if it is not helping you, your colleagues or your employer.

Why do we persist in not addressing this pattern of behaviour?

Staff present but not engaged, want some solutions?Some solutions to tackling presenteeism

Perhaps workplace wellness and health programs can go some way to countering this

  1. Identify presenteeism as an issue and ensure managers are aware of it and its costs to the individual, colleagues and business.
  2. Encourage a more appropriate attitude towards ‘sick days’ and their use as appropriate.
  3. Managers should assist staff to keep their work in perspective – encourage them to achieve the right work life balance.
  4. Identify any ‘common’ health issues or risks that might be experienced by the profile of your workforce to target  strategies for action.
  5. Educate your workforce and assist them in better health and prevention approaches.
  6. Introduce flexibility in terms of hours and place of work.
  7. Consider a targeted wellness/health program to tackle known problems amongst your workers (we already extend flu shots but what other health issues can we tackle possibilities might be health risk assessments, exercise and nutrition programs, walking groups.

Other reading

UK Government – Workplace Wellbeing tool – calculate cost to creat business case for wellness programs