Is Presenteeism a Problem at Your Workplace?

Many of us are taught at an early age that we should show up early to any engagement we may have and be present in anything we do. Some are even awarded for their punctuality and perfect attendance. As one enters the corporate world, workers are expected to abide by this practice because it will be proof of one’s commitment to their career. If we are even absent for one day, it may be perceived as a sign that we are not committed and underperforming in our duties.

While this perception has been going on for years, it is clear for many that even though one is “present” in their position, it doesn’t mean they are happy with their work or will produce expected results.

It can be hard to measure whether presenteeism affects a workplace, but sure signs can tell you if it is becoming a problem. Here are some of these signs you can look for:

Low Productivity

One notable sign of presenteeism is your team’s bouts of lost productivity. Some of them would come to work even if they were sick or exhausted because they did not want to incur salary deductions. However, ill and tired employees have a higher risk of making mistakes at work, which can cause misunderstandings and additional work for others.

Prolonged Spread Of Illness

When you are sick, you should not force yourself to go to work and wait for it to go away. However, if presenteeism is present at the workplace, you will notice that it is not uncommon to hear your colleagues getting sick suddenly, which is usually the same illness. Because of these illnesses, productivity is affected, and your team often misses deadlines.

Low Morale

Presenteeism also causes people to lose their morale to work slowly. If employees are sick or don’t feel like working, it affects their mood and makes it difficult for them to interact with others. Low morale will also make it hard for people to get into a productive state; when others see it, they may also lose their enthusiasm to work well.

Undermined Inclusion

Presenteeism becomes a problem in the workplace if you see people continuing to work when it is clear they need time to take an off day because of their family or health situation. Employees would be reluctant to take a leave because they worried about its ramifications on their salary and career.

When you see these signs of presenteeism in your workplace, it is best to immediately sit down with the team and develop an environment that will focus on what employees need. As their team leader or employer, you must pay attention to your team because their well-being is essential for your company’s success. The impacts of your solution will not be immediate, but if you address it slowly, your employees will notice it.

For a more inclusive working environment, you can try some of these ideas here:
How To Make Your Office Space More Neurodiverse
Great Tips to Engage Gen Z Colleagues at Your Company
10 Ways to Encourage Knowledge Sharing Across Your Organisation

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes, I’m old enough to remember and experience clocking on and off. I also, at one point, had to go through the time cards and see who was late to work or left early. So, the moment you hit a total of 8 minutes being late through the week, 15 minutes would be deducted from your pay and so on. Fortunately, that draconian and very demotivating process implemented during the industrial revolution was evenually phased out 😊

    Those in key roles need to lead by example to break down presenteeism and encourage the teams to work out the best way to function. Yes, I start early, certainly guilty of working when sick (but in the main don’t do this any more) and I am a stickler for meetings starting on time, but I left work 15 mins early today because I couldn’t mentally do any more. I support my managers in terms of what they need re work life balance and they in turn do the same with their people 😊😊😊


    1. I remember at a place I used to work, people would finish work 10 to 15 minutes early, so they didn’t have time to start something new. They would spend that 10 minutes looking for things on the internet or chatting about weekend plans or movies with coworkers until it was time to go home. Not the best use of work time. They should be able to go home.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. I tend to let staff go home half an hour early on a Friday.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes. Making people working exactly 40 hours a week doesn’t guarantee a higher level of productivity.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Keith says:

    Kally, if companies think presenteeism is not a problem to some extent, they are being naive. Employers have long sought this nirvana of employee commitment. Well the reason it is rare is the employers killed it. How a company treats its employees matters. Remaining employees see people being treated poorly as downsized people are walked out the door the day they are fired. They see elastic cuts to wages when times are getting tough, are tough or less tough, but very inelast9ic increases as recovery happens. They see training budgets get cut when wages are cut.

    Companies that provide opportunities, value employees input, and pay reasonably well will have less presenteeism. There is a great lesson in an incoming CEO named Paul O’Neill who turned Alcoa around. I will dig out on an old post that defines how he did it. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newwhitebear says:

    you made an excellent diagnosis of presenteeism and indicated what to observe and keep in mind in order not to make mistakes.


  4. C.A. Post says:

    The focus here is on PEOPLE, not products! That is the best way to get productivity from people, but even then, IF the “interest” in people is just to get “results,” that will become evident. Managers need to learn to TRULY care about their people.
    Thanx for all your great blogs!
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.


  5. When I worked at an office and people started to get sick all from the cold, other people would start to fear going to work and getting sick themselves.


  6. Americaoncoffee says:

    Awesome key points for leadership and info to share at employees, in service group meets. ❤️☕️☕️❤️


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