Presenteeism: The Costly Epidemic Most Employers Haven’t Heard Of


presenteeismAfter I published my recent article on “Improving Absenteeism In The Workplace”, a colleague showed me an article about something I had never heard of before called presenteeism. Employers are naturally concerned about the issue of punctuality and absenteeism but what about the times when they go to work sick or not fully present?

That is presenteeism.


The Problem Is NOT Cheap

When you have a sick employee showing up for work, not only are they going to be less effective, they are dramatically increasing the chances of other employees getting ill simply through contagion.

Big, expensive and potentially dangerous problems can arise when you have a worker operating machinery without a clear head. Physical sickness is the first thing that comes to mind for most people but it isn’t the only thing that’s creating harmful distractions in the workplace.


1 in 5 of Your Employees Are Depressed


Recent stats are showing that 1 in 5 Canadian employees suffer from depression and other mental health related issues. This data correlates with our information showing medications for mental illness account for 30% of claims on the average group plan. Everyone loses when it comes to unaddressed mental health issues.

It’s tough to focus when you are going through an emotional crisis and many managers lack the proper training to effectively deal with it when it arises in the workplace. Good employees can be greatly impaired by mental stress; nobody is truly immune from the problem.


presenteeismAbsenteeism Vs. Presenteeism

Many employers feel a sense of relief when an employee decides to come in, despite whatever illness they are dealing with. Studies have shown that this desire is most likely misplaced, as presenteeism is believed to cost Canadian businesses more money than absenteeism itself.

A survey completed by AccountTemps revealed the uprising trend of working while “under the weather” with 51% of employees saying they go to work even when they are feeling sick. This is estimated to cost businesses billions of dollars but what can be done to combat it?


Finding Cost Effective Solutions

Although no employer can purchase a magic wand that will fix all of these issues overnight, there are several options that are worth considering and implementing. Many effective preventative solutions can be found with the right employee benefit plan such as:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are a great first step to assisting with employee mental health issues

  • Encouraging physical health maintenance of employees
  • Extended medical coverage
  • Paramedical services (such as chiropractor & physio)
  • Purchasing a pool priced benefit plan can significantly help avoid high premium renewals due to excess usage
  • Employers can attend training sessions on how to recognize presenteeism

Of course cost must be a major factor in gaining value and ROI from your group plan so it’s important to be discerning when choosing your employee benefit plan. A great resource to read is “The 3 Mistakes Employers Make When Purchasing An Employee Benefit Plan”.

The eBook is available for free instant download here.

Leave a Reply