Workplace blogs
Workplace blogs

Absenteeism’s Ugly Cousin Presenteeism. Are You Fully Present at Work?

Is everyone fully present in your workplace? April is Stress Awareness month, so it might pay to be aware of absenteeism’s ugly cousin, presenteeism: employees not working at top performance because they are either stressed out or sick. According to one study commissioned by Desjardins Financial Services, 83% of workers show up at work sick or exhausted!  Ouch!  That seems outrageously high to me, but even if those numbers are out of whack, a Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine study found that presenteeism is a bigger and more costly problem than absenteeism!  (Is this stressing you out?) 

There’s a subcategory of presenteeism wherein otherwise hard working people feel disengaged because of the workplace culture. They may not be sick or stressed, but they’ve lost that loving feeling to the point that they bigstockphoto_crazy_office_857411quit working many years ago…but still keep showing up at work and collecting a paycheck! Conversely, a study from the Michigan Ross School of Business found that employees who “thrive” (as defined as being fully engaged in helping to create the company’s future) are far more productive and experience a whopping 125% less burnout than their peers.

Lakshmi Ramarajan from the Toronto Rotman School of Management found that the top causes of burnout and disengagement are a lack of respect, ideas not being valued, lack of control and the absence of any feedback. Employees who felt valued and respected, on the other hand, could handle much higher levels of work without burning out or having frighteningly bad hairs days.

Numerous studies agree on what the most effective cures are for presenteeism:

– Connecting everyone to a higher sense of purpose in their work

– Actively demonstrating values centered around trust, respect, and appreciation

– Offering flexible work hours/more control over work schedules

– Allowing everyone more input and more control over their own work situation

– Health and wellness programs that are more than mere window dressing

– Bringing in Michael Kerr to speak to your organization (how did that slip in?)

– Creating a fun culture that values the critical role humor plays in preventing burnout

– A greater use of puppets at work (not sure this was actually in any of the studies, but I have my own theory that puppets might just help)

Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker and very funny motivational speaker. For great ideas on building a better workplace sign up for his weekly e-zine, Inspiring Workplaces – Humor at Work.


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