Have you ever had to work closely with someone who clearly should have called in sick? How did your day go? Were you productive as ever or did you spend half of your time sneaking off to bathe in hand sanitizer? Chances are good that both of your workloads were affected.
That’s the thing about absenteeism. Just because an employee is physically in the office doesn’t mean that person is actively contributing. Not only that, but an employee who is sick, exhausted, or distraught can easily bring down the productivity of others as well.
Businesses who once worried about the impact of absenteeism on their organizations are now also worrying about the damaging effects of presenteeism.
Back in the day, productivity was easy to measure. Either an employee showed up or they didn’t. And if they weren’t on site, they probably weren’t working.
But today’s workplaces are more complex. We now have technology that allows employees to keep up with work remotely. And companies are starting to realize that simply because their employees are dragging themselves into the office doesn’t mean they’re being productive or efficient.
Measuring productivity in this environment is tricky, and weighing the impact of presenteeism on overall company performance can be even more difficult. That said, it’s been estimated that presenteeism costs companies somewhere between 150 and 250 billion dollars annually. That’s no small amount.
Feeling a little queasy?
Don’t worry. There are things you can do to address the issues of absenteeism and presenteeism in your workplace. And in doing so, you just might also improve stress levels, productivity and your bottom line.
One case study reported that one company saw a 54% decrease in absence and a 90% increase in customer satisfaction after implementing a more robust well-being program.
When done right, investing in employee wellness can also help build a company culture that sends top notch talent running to your door.
Here are 5 ways to get started:
1.) Evaluate staffing levels
Illness happens to the best of us, and never when we expect it. Running lean is one thing, but If one person on the team calling in sick means your business can’t function, that’s a problem. And if your team is constantly overworked, they’re even more likely to get sick. Which results in – you guessed it – more people out of the office.
Have you gotten in the habit of leaving positions unfilled and/or constantly asking the employees you do have to take on more? If so, maybe it's time do some hiring.
Skimping on staff may serve you well in the short term but if you want a happy, healthy, and fully present workforce, you’ll need to make sure you have enough team members to take on everything you want to get done.
2.) Offer (and encourage) sick time
Discouraging staff from staying home when they are sick might seem like a cost saving idea, but the reality of having a sick person at work is rarely productive or pleasant. It can also lead to a string of employees ending up sick instead of just one. Talk about lost productivity!
Foster a culture that supports the use of sick days rather than punishing employees for using them. Establish and communicate guidelines for when staying home is acceptable, and send unwell employees home. If an employee calls in sick, express genuine concern for their wellbeing rather than demanding they get back to work as soon as possible.
3.) Implement a flexible PTO policy
In addition to noting an uptick in presenteeism, employers have also reported that approximately 1/3 of all sick days were taken for reasons other than illness.
As families struggle to balance the demands of work and life, paid time off is quickly becoming the preferred alternative to sick days. PTO is time off that employees can use for any reason. When employees have a bank of PTO to use as they wish, they can take time off to see a doctor for a preventative exam or stay home and rest before an illness intensifies.
Employees may also feel more comfortable about taking time off to address a family member's illness, stay home with a sick child, care for an elderly parent, or resolve a personal issue that would otherwise hinder their in-office productivity.
4.) Get ergonomic
Nearly all of us will experience at least one episode of chronic back pain or neck pain at least once in their lifetime. Much of this pain is associated with poor posture from long hours hunched over a computer screen or keyboard.
Ergonomic interventions, such as lumbar supportive chairs, specialized typing keyboards and sit/stand desks and chairs can lessen pain, improve posture and reduce lost productivity.
Consider bringing in an ergonomics expert periodically to make sure everyone is in proper alignment.
5.) Prioritize employee health and wellbeing
Wellbeing includes fitness, nutrition, financial health and work/life balance. A workplace culture that supports employee wellbeing rather than solely focusing on the bottom line is better for employees and employers alike.
Look at your overall approach to employee wellness. Is just lip service or is it woven into your organizational culture?
- Re-evaluate your current health insurance plan. Are high deductibles and co-pays discouraging employees from visiting the doctor for preventive care?
- Is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place to address mental health and stress concerns?
- Take a look at your workloads. Are they manageable or is your team too run-down to perform?
- Examine your turnover numbers. Do your employees stick around, look for advancement, and refer their friends? Or are you looking into install a revolving door?
- What is your compensation structure like? Are you relieving financial stress or creating it?
You don’t have to take all of these things on at once, but committing to workplace wellness extends far beyond daily productivity. Healthy employees have higher levels of engagement and retention as well. And coveted company cultures win big when it comes to recruiting.
Treat your employees well and your business will thank you.
Recruiting and retaining employees is easier when you can proudly offer a comprehensive benefits plan that makes your team members feel as valuable as they are. At Raffa, we build cost effective, long-lasting employee benefits strategies to keep your business and your employees in optimum health.
Photo by alphaspirit