Staff ill at work

Top Tips for Fighting Presenteeism

The current economy is constantly pushing employers and businesses to do more with less – and the unfortunate side-effect is a new culture of presenteeism, which sees workers coming into the workplace despite being unable to meet their usual levels of productivity.

Presenteeism can actually be more harmful than absenteeism. It’s been speculated that presenteeism costs UK workplaces £15bn per year, where the total cost of absenteeism is £8bn. According to the CIPD, 80% of workers said they would not consider taking time off for stress-related illness, and 81% also said they had caught illnesses from colleagues that came into work despite not being on top form.

So what can businesses do to fight this culture of 24/7 work? Here are our top tips:

Follow procedure

  1. Put policies and procedures in place that protect your employees if they need to take a sick day. Sick days, for example, should not come into consideration when it’s time for promotions or performance reviews. Many employees will not take a day off because they worry about job security, so make sure you implement policies that will reassure your team their jobs are safe, even if they get sick.
  2. Lead by example

  3. Set a good example. As a leader, you might feel that you need to drag yourself into work throughout sickness and stress – but where you lead, your team will follow. If a member of management is sick or stressed, remind them to set an example for the rest of the group.

Promote wellbeing

  1. Emphasise mindfulness and wellbeing. These are key buzzwords in the world of HR right now, and should be focused on. Many companies nowadays offer private health care insurance, but employees having access to a gym, a psychologist or a life coach could also stave off the effects of presenteeism.
  2. Offer flexibility

  3. Consider flexible working. The ability to work flexibly is ideal for employees that might be suffering from stress. Flexible working can raise output levels and productivity, while also removing daily stresses like the commute and office politics.


  1. Cross-train your employees to cover other jobs if someone should be absent. Not only will this prevent productivity from falling if an employee calls in sick, it will also show your top employees that you’re willing to invest in them. Employees will feel empowered, and will also feel a sense of reassurance knowing that someone else can step in for them if they’re ill.