The cost of presenteeism exceeds absenteeism

The cost of presenteeism has now exceeded the cost of absenteeism. Presentism, which refers to sick employees who come to work instead of staying home, now exceeds $ 180 billion annually. Absenteeism, where the employee does not show up for work, costs $ 118 billion annually and medical expenses and lost productivity.

Employee “illness” can be grouped into five different categories. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) breaks down the impact as follows:

1. Personal illnesses represent 35%

2. Family problems represent 21%

3. Personal needs are combined by 18%

4. An entitlement mentality accounts for 14%

5. Stress makes up the final 12%

The SHRM figures refer only to absenteeism, so they may not be applicable in the same percentages to presenteeism. However, some presenteeism will fall into each of the categories. This occurs when, for example, an employee has family issues to deal with, yet doesn’t feel like it is necessary to suspend the entire day from work. They will make the necessary phone calls to resolve family problems during business hours. In the case of the entitlement mindset, when employees see other employees taking long lunches or breaks or making personal phone calls during work hours, they feel they have a right to do the same as well.

It is important to note that in some cases presenteeism contributes to the cost of absenteeism. This occurs when an employee is contagious and transmits germs to other employees in the workplace. These newly infected employees will choose to deal with their illness through absenteeism or presenteeism.

One possible culprit for the rise in presenteeism is lack of “no fault” sick time. No-fault sick time refers to allowing employees to take their sick time without having to give an explanation of why they are taking the time. This reduces the amount of presenteeism, as employees no longer feel like they must act sick to qualify for a sick day. However, once an employee begins to run out of sick time, or is only allowed minimal sick time during the year, presenteeism becomes a form of choice when it comes to the five areas identified by SHRM.

According to the Multicultural Business Council (MBC), a cultural empowerment organization based near Detroit, Michigan, truancy policies are creating specific cultures within the larger corporate culture. When an employee changes jobs from a company that has a restrictive absenteeism policy to a company with a less restrictive absenteeism policy, they will quickly learn to adapt to the new culture. However, employees who move in the opposite direction, from less restrictive to more restrictive absenteeism policies, will take longer to adjust to the company culture.

It seems that an entitlement mindset is a key player as employees look at sick pay policies at their company versus the policies of companies they have previously worked with or have friends or family working for. Understanding the motivational factors of a team of employees can reduce the negative impact of presenteeism and absenteeism.

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