Impact Of Presenteeism on the UK Workforce

Guest Blog by Shakira Joyner of HCHR


Despite a general misconception, employees who attend work while unwell isn’t a sign of dedication. It’s more likely that the culture in their organisation makes them feel pressurised to be there.  This is known as presenteeism and has become both a prevalent and costly problem that needs to be addressed.


Think of it like a technical malfunction; if a photocopier or printer jams, employees can also ‘break down’ by becoming sick too, and will need time out of the workplace to be repaired.




The CIPD has recently reported that a health and well-being at work report has revealed that presenteeism has hit a record high in the UK organisations as stress at work rises.


The report states that 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010. The survey also found that ‘leaveism’, such as people using annual leave to work, is also a growing problem. More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) reported that leaveism has occurred in their organisation over the last year.

Managing Presenteeism in your workplace


Properly managing presenteeism not only saves companies money in the short and longer term, but it can also contribute to employee engagement and productivity.


The team at HCHR has come up with some tips to help you manage presenteeism in your organisation:


  • Feeling real or imagined pressure to come to work when ill reduces employee morale and negatively impacts physical and mental wellbeing. Make it clear that your company expects sick employees to stay home and recover.


  • Ensure that your line managers understand the relationship between absenteeism and presenteeism, that they’re supported to adopt a more flexible approach to absence, and that they provide support to employees making a return to work after a period of illness.


  • The ways in which line managers facilitate the management of employees’ workloads, and how they communicate and provide support play a big role in the amount of work-related stress people experience. It’s crucial your managers are aware of organisational and managerial causes of work-related stress and ill health and have theskills to promote positive working practice and wellbeing.


  • It’s vital that your managers are educated to notice the signals associated with employees experiencing high levels of stress or mental health problems, and that they feel equipped to have open and supportive conversations with them about their health. Workplace training and awareness raising of common mental and physical health issues will help reduce stigma and provide people with a better understanding of workplace wellbeing.


  • Developing a strategic policy that takes account of social, physical, mental and financial stressors and offers appropriate support will go a long way towards reducing the impact of presenteeism.

Author: Editorial Team

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