It’s a sad fact, but people are going to work when unwell because they are too stressed.
A new report found that 27% of people surveyed couldn’t take a day off to recover because they had too much work.
Almost a quarter (24%) said they would take time off if there was less pressure from their boss to be ‘always on’ and working.
This is ‘presenteeism’ – it covers everything from going into work when ill, to staying late to show commitment and answering emails outside of work.
Presenteeism can be the sign of a toxic workplace and is harmful to wellbeing.
A ‘turn-up-to-work-at-all-costs’ culture might initially give the impression of a team of high flyers, but according to Nottingham Business School, employees coming to work ill can cost a business £4,000 in lost business per employee, each year.
So how can it be prevented?
The culture of the workplace needs to change.
Managers need to stop thinking that employees are productive, dedicated and/or happy simply because they can see them.
If an employee is unwell – either due to mental or physical reasons – then they should feel able to take time off to recover without fear of judgement or any other indirect “punishment”.
However, many managers are still not trained in how to notice the signs of stress, or know what to do about it.
All employees and managers will benefit from mental health awareness training, a focus on trust, communication, and schemes such as flexible working to alleviate stress and encourage a better work-life balance.
Otherwise, problems will not be heard, and will gradually get worse.
The organisation also needs an effective sickness absence procedure, where absences are recorded and employees given return to work interviews.
This way, the reasons for absence can be identified, and something done about it.
To find out where you can make changes in your organisation to build a wellbeing culture (and how to do it), simply take our free five minute questionnaire.