Presenteeism – What is it and what do you need to know?

Presenteeism – What is it and what do you need to know?

Defining presenteeism

In the modern workplace, where competition is fierce and deadlines are tight, a new phenomenon is silently taking its toll on employees and their organisations. It’s called “Presenteeism” – the act of employees showing up to work despite feeling unwell or mentally strained. It differs from absenteeism, where employees are absent from work entirely. In this blog we look at the causes and impacts of presenteeism and the steps employers can take to protect their employees.

Unravelling the root causes

Presenteeism can manifest in various forms, including coming to work when physically ill, working while struggling with mental health issues, or working while distracted by personal problems. To tackle presenteeism, it is vital to identify the underlying factors that drive employees to exhibit this behaviour.

Three of the biggest drivers of presenteeism are job insecurity, excessive workload and fear of the negative career consequences of not turning up to work. Prolonged exposure to these stressors can result in employee burnout, compromised mental well-being and a higher likelihood of long-term health issues.

Moreover, presenteeism can negatively impact job satisfaction, resulting in decreased employee morale and an overall decline in workplace culture. Employers who invest in their employee’s well-being can pre-empt these problems from developing, but how can that be achieved?

Breaking the presenteeism cycle

To effectively manage presenteeism, employers can implement several strategies to create a healthier work environment:

  1. Promote open communication: Encourage open dialogues about health and well-being. Create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges without fear of judgment.
  2. Supportive leadership: Leaders play a critical role in setting the tone for workplace culture. Encourage managers to be empathetic, understanding, and supportive of employees’ personal and professional needs.
  3. Flexible work arrangements: Consider offering flexible work options, such as remote work or flexible hours, to accommodate employees’ individual circumstances and enhance work-life balance.
  4. Mental health initiatives: Invest in mental health programs, workshops, and resources that provide employees with tools to manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges.
  5. Wellness programs: Implement wellness initiatives that promote physical well-being, such as fitness classes, healthy eating campaigns, and access to healthcare resources.
  6. Create a quiet work environment: Designate quiet spaces or implement noise reduction measures in the workplace to enhance focus and concentration.

Final thoughts

The impact of presenteeism on employee health and productivity cannot be overlooked. Managing presenteeism is not just an ethical responsibility; it is a strategic imperative for employers seeking long-term success. By taking proactive steps to break the cycle of presenteeism, employers can build a work environment where everyone can achieve their fullest potential.

At MOHS we help employers build happier and healthier work environments. We provide a range of well-being services including by health surveillance, medical assessments, mental health provision and ergonomic assessments. To find out about how we can support you, contact us at