Presenteeism hits record high in UK organisations

stressed womanThe number of people who go to work when they are ill (presenteeism) has more than tripled since 2010, according to the latest survey by CIPD and Simplyhealth – and employers aren’t doing enough to recognise and address this.

The survey also found that people using annual leave to work (leaveism) is also a growing problem. More than two-thirds of respondents (69 per cent) reported that leaveism has occurred in their organisation over the last year.

Increased presenteeism is associated with a rise in reported common mental health conditions as well as stress-related absence, which are among the top causes of long-term sickness absence, according to the survey.

However, only one in 10 of those who are taking action said presenteeism and leaveism are viewed as a priority by the board, and less than six in ten (58 per cent) say their organisation is currently meeting the basic legal requirements for reducing stress in the workplace.

Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says:

“In order to encourage a healthy workplace, organisations need to look beyond sickness absence rates alone and develop a solid, evidence-based understanding of the underlying causes of work-related stress and unhealthy behaviour like presenteeism. Without this evidence base, efforts to support employees and improve their health and wellbeing will be short-lived.”

Other highlights

  • Significantly more respondents (55 per cent) reported an increase in common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, among employees in the last 12 months, compared with 2016 (41 per cent).
  • Advances in technology are generally seen to have more of a positive than negative impact on employee wellbeing. However, almost nine in 10 respondents call out employees’ inability to switch off out of work hours as the most common negative effect of technology on wellbeing.

Read more: CIPD

See also

Should workplaces have a napping policy?