“Presenteeism” occurs when your staff are physically in the workplace, but not productively engaged. Sickness is one of the top causes of presenteeism. Although staff have shown up, they’re simply too ill to get anything done. Some dedicated traditionalists see nothing wrong with presenteeism. After all, staff are on-site and they’re sending the message that work is a high priority.

Unfortunately, presenteeism may be costing you. Here’s how:

• Productivity losses are staggering. A Work Foundation report found that lost productivity from presenteeism costs 1.5 times as much as lost productivity from absenteeism. In other words, it’s cheaper for your employees to stay home than to come to work sick. That’s because …

• Sick employees beget more sick employees. Seasonal viruses are highly contagious. One ill employee can easily spread the virus to everyone in the workplace, reducing everyone’s productivity. If that employee stays home, everyone else’s chances of staying healthy and productive increase.

Overcoming “Presenteeism”

Identify when employees should not be at work, “I know I should have stayed home,” they say, “but there’s just too much to do,” followed by a slight cough or sniffles.

When workload is high, employees avoid taking time off work because they might miss deadlines or overburden their already overworked colleagues. Dropping the ball, even for a day or two, simply may not be an option. In this situation, managers can do much to revisit and redistribute workloads.


When employees are sick, it’s time to rely on someone else – like your staffing partner. Staffing firms like Alkar Human Resources are equipped to address sudden, temporary absences in a number of ways, including:

• Last-minute needs & Gap coverage. If staff will be out sick for an extended period, or are in a transition phase, your staffing partner can recommend qualified temporary workers who can “fill the gap” until the situation settles.


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