What Is Presenteeism and Why Is It Bad for Business?

“Presenteeism” is the opposite of absenteeism. It refers to the practice of working while ill or preoccupied with other concerns, like child care or personal issues. It often occurs when employees work during their time off, spending time in a conference room rental, for example, while they are on vacation. 
What Causes It?
Typically, presenteeism is brought about by internal or external pressures. For example, a boss with unrealistic deadlines can push employees to come in while they are sick or do work even while they are on leave. Other times, presenteeism happens when bosses discourage their employees from taking time off, sending the message that taking time off is a sign of a poor work ethic or lack of loyalty to the company.
Why It’s a Problem.
Presenteeism doesn’t translate to an employee being 100% involved in their work–in fact, it often leads to low morale and even burnout. What’s worse is that a sick employee coming in while ill can get others sick as well, resulting in more people out of the office instead of just one individual being sidelined for a couple of days. In the long term, not taking time off when needed can lead to burnout in employees, with stress worsening health problems. When employees are not at their best, their quality of work and productivity will suffer. This can also lead to high turnover.
Addressing Presenteeism.
Presenteeism highlights a problem within work cultures, so addressing it means going to the root of the issue. For starters, bosses themselves need to stay home when they are ill or have to deal with personal matters. Managers should encourage employees to take advantage of their paid time off. Flexible working arrangements in a virtual office space can reduce some of the stress as well by making it easier for employees to balance work with their personal lives.
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