I’m sure you can remember more than one occasion when you were off your game at work. Maybe one of the kids was sick and you didn’t get much sleep, or your mind was elsewhere. You had a lousy day, but you got caught up the next day. It happens to the best of us.
But when your health affects your productivity on a regular basis, that’s a much more serious problem.
When employees are physically present at work, but chronic illness, pain or stress is affecting their job performance, this is called presenteeism. And it’s on the rise.
According to a 2012 study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 30 percent of respondents said more people were going to work ill than during the previous year. 52 percent of these companies noticed an increase in presenteeism.
Contrary to popular belief, showing up sick can be worse than not showing up at all. In fact, one study from Statistics Canada found that lost productivity from presenteeism was 7.5 times higher than lost productivity from absenteeism.
At the core of presenteeism are the debilitating effects of chronic pain and illnesses such as obesity, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, low back pain and extreme stress. These conditions affect how we perform not just at work, but in every aspect of our lives.
Every single day.
They make it difficult to concentrate, think clearly and make good decisions. They make us feel tired and irritable. They make us feel stressed. They make us cope by binge eating unhealthy foods.
To get through the workday, instead of making the behavioral changes we need to feel and function better, we take and often become addicted to prescription medication, which makes the situation even worse.
We become physically and mentally incapable of doing our jobs as well as we should. The effects of our presenteeism spread to co-workers who have to pick up the slack, creating a toxic environment of sickness, stress and low productivity.
Chronic illness and pain shouldn’t be ignored just because we still manage to drag ourselves to work every day. This is one of the many topics I discuss during my Wellness At Work presentations, and this is why more companies need to place a greater emphasis on exactly that – wellness at work. In the next post, I’ll begin to discuss what needs to be done to implement a corporate wellness program.