Managing Presenteeism: A discussion paper

Executive Summary / Introduction

Presenteeism means reduced productivity when employees come to work and are not fully engaged or perform at lower levels as a result of ill health. Why manage it? Centre for Mental Health calculated that presenteeism from mental ill health alone costs the UK economy £15.1 billion per annum, while absenteeism costs £8.4 billion. Research shows that presenteeism is hugely costly to employers, but all too often ignored. Managing it well not only saves money in both the short and longer term, but also contributes to the development of an engaged and productive workforce. This paper discusses ways in which employers might be able to respond to presenteeism based on research and experience, as exemplified in the BITC Workwell Model (see above) for creating the conditions in which people can flourish. We hope it will stimulate further debate and more evidence of how to manage presenteeism in practice.

Organisations should ensure that all their employees are treated fairly and that managers understand how to administer corporate policies in an equitable manner. Organisations need to be aware of any cultural trends towards absenteeism or presenteeism and be prepared to address them. Organisations can minimise the potential damage of job loss to employees by being open and honest about their own financial position and by providing employees with transferable skills to improve their prospects in the job market. In addition, when redundancies have to take place, organisations can provide outplacement support to assist employees in finding alternative employment. Putting these in place will not only minimise the risks of ill health but will also help boost employee engagement.

The Full Story

This discussion document offers guidance on the business case for implementing simple wellbeing programmes to build a resilient workforce. It provides ideas for action and offers a list of useful resources.