The negative effects a Presenteeism culture brings upon a company:
Presenteeism is a relative new term, but what the term represents has been a part of the workplace for a long time, although now it seems to be on the rise. It basically means putting aside mental and physical health for the sole purpose of making it to work. It is a very dangerous practice and expectation given that employees are putting their health aside for their jobs, but still their work ends up being affected as a direct result of their deteriorating health.
Mental illnesses and mental health overall is something that is harder to diagnose or detect than a physical injury. When a worker has a clear physical injury, no one questions when they are allowed to have time off, but when workers are struggling with poor mental health, they are often still expected to not only show up, but perform at the same level or even above the level they were at before. When workers are not allowed to have some time off to take care of their mental state, the overall performance in the workplace drastically declines. By encouraging employees to take care of their health first, productivity will rise.
The impact presenteeism has on productivity is very detrimental to workers, employers and companies overall. When a worker decides to go into work feeling sick, injured, stressed or mentally unfit to attend their jobs, but still do, it severely affects their work which as a result affects the company. Not only might someone make mistakes on the job or be less productive, but they might also have a negative effect on their co-workers by showing up unfit to work as they should. In a 2018 Article, Forbes published that the US economy has a $150 billion loss due to presenteeism. Workers believe that showing up to work is better than taking care of their health, which results in very drastic negative consequences. Workers cost their companies more when they show up unfit to work than when they stay home and don’t show up at all. In the long run, taking care of your health should always be priority number one, not only because of your personal benefit, but because everyone who surrounds you will benefit as well, including your workplace.
As workers compete against one another at their jobs for raises, promotions or other recognitions, the expectation of them always showing up and working longer hours, even when feeling mentally or physically unfit to do their job, results on a worse performance and less productivity had they not shown up at all and instead taken care of themselves. Presenteeism has actually been proven to cost companies almost 10 times more than Absenteeism. As a society we have this belief that always showing up to work directly translates to productivity and profits , although this couldn’t be further from the truth. People will always end up being more productive when they’re feeling their best, when they’re feeling healthy, motivated and energized to tackle their responsibilities.
The only way Presenteeism can be improved is by having executives and employers create a new culture in their workplace where they support and encourage a healthy work/life balance, prioritize health and lead by example by doing it themselves. Making sure employees leave on time, putting an emphasis on the importance of feeling ready and motivated to work each day, and on the days they are not, help them feel comfortable to taking a day off, getting healthy and coming back ready to be productive. Overall, Presenteeism is harmful for everyone. The current culture in which everyone is expected to work overtime, with impossible deadlines and co-worker competition only leads to less productivity and higher costs for the company as well as an unsatisfied workplace environment.