Presenteeism (going to work sick) continues to be a hard to quantify but real cost for employers. When employees come to work sick, they are less productive and risk exposing coworkers to their illness. A recent survey from NSF International suggests at least one-quarter (26%) of American workers admit to going to work when they are sick. The numbers varied by gender with men (33%) are nearly twice as likely as women (17%) to always go to work through their illness or when sick. With numbers this high, employers cannot ignore the impacts of presenteeism on their bottom lines.
The two most cited reasons for why employees attended work while being sick were the workload (42%) and not being able to afford missing work (37%). Another 25% of employees attended work sick because they felt their boss expects them to come in no matter what. All three of these reasons should sound alarms for employers beyond the costs associated with presenteeism. If employees feel overworked and pressure from their bosses, they are not likely to retain their employment with the company. Also, monetary reasons bring up the issue of the financial wellness of employees. A less popular reason for presenteeism was not trusting their colleagues to do the job while they are out (13%).
Employers can combat presenteeism in several ways, one of which is through education. Companies can provide resources to employees about ways to boost their immune system and avoid getting sick, such as washing their hands properly and regularly and disinfecting surfaces. Also, employers can make sure managers do not pressure employees to coming in sick. They can even go further by making sure managers proactively communicate that coming into work is not expected or encouraged.