Workplace wellbeing getting a bad wrap
With all of the buzzwords and fluffy perceptions that can surround “Wellbeing in the Workplace”, leaders can lose sight of the organisational benefits of their employees being “well”. Wellbeing interventions can easily become a tick the box exercise to tell employee’s that “we care” and to paint a desirable picture for prospective candidates. Additionally, interventions are often a reaction to a negative and current situation. What this can mean is that preventative and effective interventions that impact productivity and return on investment can be non-existent and organisations may be missing opportunities for profit and growth.
The cost is larger than absenteeism
Wellbeing interventions can reduce absenteeism rates, however, we need to make sure that we do not get this confused with believing that employees are “well” if they are coming to work. Researchers are now uncovering that presenteeism is more costly to organisations than absenteeism – the cost is nearly four times that of absenteeism as shown in a report by Medibank in 2011. This silent killer is costing the Australian economy approximately $35 billion dollars per year.
What is Presenteeism? Presenteeism refers to loss in productivity from employees who come to work when they are physically or psychologically unwell. Not only is there a loss in productivity, but employees can also:
- Aggravate their condition or prolong recovery
- Infect others
- Influence others to do the same
- Become a safety risk – particularly with mental health & fatigue
- Have a negative impact on moral
- Increase the number of sick days taken
Here are some of the causes of presenteeism, with most falling back into the health and wellbeing category:
- Unhealthy lifestyles
- Untreated allergies and asthma
- Poor work-life balance
- Job-related stress
- Absence policies
- Some team climates and organisational cultures
What can we do about it?
- Understand Presenteeism by doing your research, both from external sources and within your organisation
- Take wellbeing seriously
- Promote healthy lifestyles
- Invest in the health and wellbeing of employees
- Recognise and communicate the difference between positive and negative absenteeism
- Leaders and supervisor’s role modelling behaviours – this includes demonstrating that you are invested in your own health and wellbeing
- Increase respect and concern for employee stress at work
- Create a supportive workplace culture
The cost of presenteeism is significant, not just to the health and wellbeing of individuals – which in itself has its own consequences – but also to the health of the organisation.
Don’t let presence fool you.
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AI Group 2015 Report