While a significant number of businesses are now beginning their phased return back to the office (or equivalent workspace), many more will have made the temporarily-enforced shift to remote working a permanent arrangement.
While this comes with a laundry list of benefits for the workforce such as improved sleep – please do check out our Global Working From Home Survey for the full story on this step-change – there may also be a resurgence in a very unhealthy working trend: presenteeism.
For those unfamiliar with presenteeism, you will likely be aware that, when ill, not every employee opts to take the time off they should. Whether out of an extreme work ethic, management pressures or worries over their advancement prospects if they take time off, they continue to show up for work despite feeling unwell, and are likely far less productive as a result. This, in a nutshell, is presenteeism.
Unfortunately, the issue of presenteeism appears to have been exacerbated by employees working remotely, meaning it is crucial for managers and team leaders to be vigilant. Recent research from the CIPD revealed that 77% of employers have observed presenteeism from employees working from home over the past year – with 43% of these admitting that they were taking no action to prevent it.
When employees are working from home, it is all-too-easy to hide illness or signs that something isn’t right mentally, and employers that do not recognise this and take appropriate action will, at best, run the risk of losing their top talent to a competitor and, at worst, see their staff put at serious risk of burnout and other mental health issues.
So, what can employers do?
In order to minimise the risk of presenteeism, businesses must build an open, inclusive working culture wherein staff feel safe and supported. In this environment, if a member of staff feels unwell, or if they have an issue that may affect their work, they will feel comfortable taking the issue to their managers so that a solution can be found.
Particularly when working from home, staff still need to stay in regular contact with their managers, and to be encouraged to take the time off they need when they feel ill. Managers and more senior members of staff also need to lead by example and take the time off they need, when they need it.
Particularly for businesses that have made working from home their “new normal”, companies must take a preventative, rather than reactive approach to employee wellness, ensuring it is always front of mind throughout every facet of the business. By doing this, employers will enjoy a happier, more engaged workforce, while reducing the risk of presenteeism.
It’s a cliché, but that makes it no less true – people are the lifeblood of any business. Encourage their development, offer them the benefits that matter most to them and support them in sickness and in health, and your business will reap the rewards. To find out more about how Wrkit can support your company with its talent engagement and wellbeing strategy, visit www.wrkit.com.