Employee Health: The Cost of Presenteeism in the Workplace

Is this health-related cost affecting your company’s bottom line?

 

Being sick is never fun. Whether you have a nasty flu bug that has been floating around, the latest batch of seasonal allergies that keeps you surrounded by tissues, or you have a much more serious illness, there are few things that are worse than being laid up in bed with an upset stomach, clogged head and a runny nose?except for having to go to work with all of those symptoms. That is certainly worse.

 

While no one ever wants to have to get up, look presentable and head into work when they are under the weather, it can sometimes seem like the lesser of two evils, depending on your job. If you are the only person in your company that does what you do, taking a day off on account of illness could mean a huge pole of paperwork to come back to once you turn. In that scenario, it can seem as if you are better off to struggle into work, hot tea in hand and simply suffer though the work day. After all, coming in and giving half your effort is better than not coming in at all, right? Wrong.

 

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Many employers believe that absenteeism can mean a large loss for the company, both in healthcare costs and the lack of work that is being accomplished. However, recent studies have shown that presenteeism?people showing up to work even though they should be at home?is a far worse culprit when it comes to causing loss to U.S. employers.

 

What is Presenteeism?

 

The term presenteeism was first coined to define the act of workers reporting to their job, despite not being able to operate to their usual level of productivity, due to illness or personal issues. Often times, despite not functioning at 100%, employees will still come into the office because they do not realize how sick they are, or they do not want to have to use up one of their sick days. However, the cost of presenteeism, no matter how good the intentions may have been, can be significant to both employees and workers.

 

The Cost of Presenteeism

 

In 2004, the Harvard Business Review reported on a study conducted by researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. The findings showed that employees who came to work sick that year with different ailments, such as allergies, headaches, lower-back pain, arthritis, colds and the flu, set the company back about $34 million. Allergies and sinus trouble led the pack with the highest losses to the company of $1.8 million. The total cost of presenteeism to US employers has been increasing, and estimates for current losses range from about $150 to $250 billion annually. Costs for presenteeism are about 60 percent of the total cost of worker illness.

 

Even if the ill employee feels well enough to perform his or her duties, other people who may have lower immune systems might catch the illness and become much sicker than the person who gave them the illness.

 

How to Prevent Presenteeism

 

People who are fully present in the work place will not only be physically and mentally much more productive, but it will also save your company a lot of money in the long run. One of the best ways to ensure that your employees are always healthy and functioning to the best of their abilities is to implement an employer-sponsored wellness program, such as the ones offered by Walkingspree.

 

Whether the majority of your employees suffer from the occasional sick day, or presenteeism is a repeating problem in your office, the overall health of your employees can be your company’s greatest asset, or even your biggest threat if not properly addressed. Be sure that your business is a healthy, strong one by implementing Walkingspree’s employer-sponsored wellness program into your corporate health plan.

 

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2012-03-06T09:00:14+00:00