Sickness Absence Hits All-Time Low: Could Presenteeism Be to Blame?

Posted on Thursday, July 6, 2017 by The Office Zen MasterNo comments

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that sickness absence in the UK hit an all-time low last year, which you may think is cause for celebration. Surely the fact that less people are falling ill and having to stay off work is something positive? Unfortunately, there’s a chance that a culture of ‘presenteeism’ could be to blame. As one of London’s leading recruitment agencies, we like to keep you in the know about workplace news, so today we’ll look at the issue of presenteeism.

Presenteeism is where employees force themselves to come into work when they’re in no fit state to perform their duties—usually because they are worried about falling behind or creating a negative impression in the eyes of their bosses by calling in sick. This is backed up by other statistics—the ONS confirmed that since 2003, there’s been a steady decline in the number of working days missed due to sickness, especially during the recession. Staff were so worried about losing their jobs during the economic downturn, they would force themselves into work while suffering from many illnesses, both physical and mental.

Having worked with countless candidates over the years, we know that it can seem difficult to escape a culture of presenteeism—especially if you’re in a position that involves a lot of responsibility. For example, if you’re in a demanding executive assistant role or a busy permanent PA job, you might feel worried about missing a few days off work because your boss relies on you to keep their working day running smoothly. However, at Love Success, we don’t just want to help candidates find new jobs, but stay happy and healthy in them. So here’s why it’s important not to fall into the trap of presenteeism.

You may be ineffective

Before you make the decision whether to go into work or not when you’re ill, consider whether you’ll actually contribute much to the workplace. If you have a strong feeling that your day will consist of trying to look busy while suppressing nausea, or struggling to be heard on the phone in your office support job because you’ve lost your voice, maybe you should think about calling into work and arranging some cover.

Are you contagious?

Bacteria spreads quickly in an office environment, and nobody wants to be ‘patient zero’, the one who starts off an office epidemic of the flu or another virus. You may think you’re doing a positive thing by turning up despite serious discomfort or pain, but if you end up passing on the virus to your boss while working in a temporary PA job, it’s unlikely you’ll be doing your reputation any favours there!

You could make it worse

Coming into work when you should be resting up could make your illness worse, forcing you to miss even more work than if you’d just taken a few days off in the first place. The last thing you want is to have to take two weeks off the job because you didn’t initially take one or two days off to rest and recuperate.

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