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Friday, February 3, 2012

Presenteeism: At Least I Showed Up!

Since the recession hit in the fall of 2008, there has been a general feeling that you shouldn't take vacation or taking breaks at work is the sign of unproductivity.

I get it - people want to keep their jobs and showing up when you feel like crap or really should have stayed home must show dedication... 'who could fire a dedicated employee?' the reasoning might go.

This is known as Presenteeism.

Presenteeism is tougher to address by the simple fact that with Presenteeism the person is physically there at their work station... Absenteeism is self-explanatory.

But think - are any of us above it?

"That project is due on Friday and if I can just make it through this week I can recover on the weekend!"

"I don't want to use up my vacation pay"

"It's just a bit of a cold, I don't have any meetings - I will get over it"

And so on...

It doesn't really matter whether you're talking about a business, school, or medical setting.  Even doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers do it...

So what's the problem?

One study from Cornell University estimated that Presenteeism could account for as much as 61 percent of the total cost of worker illness... Think of that at your workplace alone on an annual basis.

But how often is it addressed?

If you sneeze at the office do people say "oh, you should go home" or is it more like "Oh, I had that last week - is your throat sore?" "Mine was".

Like j-walking, most people don't really seem to address the concern.

So fellow HR Professionals, what do we do?

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