Employee Wellbeing - Focus on presenteeism

Team work


Have you heard the saying 'the lights are on but no one is home'?  There could be a genuine reason for employees turning up for work but not being fully engaged and underperforming as a result.  With longer working hours, higher performance targets and the threat of potential job losses staff are more conscious of calling in sick than ever before. With the recent news that sickness absence in the UK has reduced it may give cause for celebration but in reality presenteeism (employees being at work but not being fully engaged and underperforming as a result) is costing the UK economy more per annum than absenteeism 1 but it is often ignored by employers. So the key question is what action can you take to reduce the negative effects of absenteeism and presenteeism in your organisation?

By addressing the health and wellbeing needs of your staff and creating a positive working environment you will not only see a reduction in sickness levels but you will also create a more productive and engaged workforce. Organisations who take a proactive approach to employee health and wellbeing report up to a 3% return on their investment2.

Before implementing any health and wellbeing initiative you need to understand what your objectives for investing are, these could include reduced absence, reduced presenteeism, reduced staff turnover or increased productivity. Below are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start analysiing data from within the business; look for absence trends such as high levels of musculoskeletal issues with manual workers, high levels of stress with customer facing staff or other illness such as high cancer and diabetes rates. By building a picture of you business and its needs you can develop a health and wellbeing programme that will address both the business needs but also the needs of the staff.
  • Establish the true cost of sickness absence (and other related issues) to your business by using the health, work and wellbeing tool. As well as calculating the associated costs you can compare your organisation to those in similar sectors and gain ideas to improve overall health and wellbeing.
  • Ask staff if they feel their health and wellbeing needs are being met - you could include a few questions in the annual staff survey or review. It is good practice to ask what staff like about your current offering and what they would change if they could. By seeking employee feedback at an early stage they are more likely to participate in future activities.
  • Set up a health and wellbeing working group that looks at ways to implement the health and wellbeing initiative on a practical level. The geographical split of staff may make it more difficult to have a standardised programme or you could have a limited budget and want to look at ways to ensure the biggest impact on the business is achieved. Invite staff from all levels of the business including management as without their buy in the programme is likely to fail!
  • Communicate your planned activities at an early to engage staff and to ensure the programme is success.

Workplace wellbeing does not have to be costly, there are simple in house changes you can make that will enhance the working environment for your employees and help you become an employer of choice. My top 5 low cost tips are:

  • Set up a health and wellbeing notice board/intranet site and update it regularly with a topic of the month such as healthy eating or physical activity.
  • Start a lunchtime walking/running group.
  • Have a subsidised fruit basket for employees to encourage healthy eating.
  • Put a small space aside for relaxation at break times – include music and soft lighting to help reduce stress and tension.
  • Where possible offer flexible working - it will reduce the risk of staff taking a sick day for a 15-minute doctor appointment!

There is lots of free information available to business’, why not visit our website to see a full list of useful organisations

To learn more about the benefits of employee health and wellbeing email: Hello@workwellhub.com or call us on 01202 987916/07954 414222

1 Centre for Mental Health calculated that presenteeism from mental ill health alone costs the UK economy £15.1 billion per annum, while absenteeism costs £8.4 billion

2 Nice report PH22 – promoting mental wellbeing at work



BlogRenee Clarke