Is presenteeism impacting your business?

Presenteeism is a hot topic for employers and HR professionals today. And according to CIPD, incidence rates are at a record high – having tripled since 2010.

But what is presenteeism, and why does it matter for business?

Presenteeism, put simply, is the increasing trend for employees coming into work even when they’re unwell, avoiding taking sick days. And whether they’re suffering from short or longer term physical or mental health issues, this could have a significant impact on your business costs.

The knock-on effects of presenteeism

Lost productivity

Employees suffering from illness are inevitably less productive at work. In fact, these employees are costing businesses 27 days of lost productive time every year. So it’s no wonder that presenteeism is now considered the biggest threat to productivity in the UK.

Company reputation becomes at risk

Unwell and unproductive employees are more likely to find work more difficult to manage – meaning they might miss deadlines, make mistakes, produce lower quality work and potentially shift responsibility where they can if they feel tired or overwhelmed. This can all result in poor customer management and service, eventually impacting the company’s reputation.

Errors and mistakes at work can easily cause accidents, injuries and health and safety risks.

Low morale and high stress

Presenteeism can also create a lower morale and higher stress level among the rest of the workforce who are having to work alongside, and potentially compensate for, these disengaged and unmotivated members of staff. Knowing that other staff members are coming into work unwell can also cause resentment and anxiety for the healthy employees around them – particularly as they might have young children at home, elderly parents to look after, or a heavy workload they need to get through. Our employers’ Guide to supporting employees with family and care commitments includes some tips on how you can make work more manageable for these individuals.

Short-term illness leads to long-term absence

If illness, whether physical or mental, is left unsupported and untreated – it can quite quickly lead to the need for long-term absence. Mental health issues like anxiety or depression are often easier to hide or minimise until the problems escalate, and the employee then requires a much more intense treatment plan than they might have earlier on.

An unhealthy employee can create an unhealthy workforce

If employees come into work with a bug or infection, it can quickly spread through the office and make others unwell. The costs of sickness are then multiplied – whether that’s through absence and sick pay, hiring cover staff, or low productivity.

The never-ending cycle

Once other employees become ill, the cycle begins again, and if action isn’t taken early on to prevent this, the knock-on costs to your business can very quickly escalate.

What can employers do?

At Benenden Health, we believe that prevention is always better than the cure. And whilst you can’t prevent your employees from ever becoming unwell, there are things you can do to prevent the costs and impacts from escalating.


Our Healthcare for Business can help you build and maintain a happier, healthier and more resilient workforce by providing access to private treatment and surgery when the NHS can’t help in a timely manner, as well as physiotherapy, a 24/7 GP helpline and an Employee Assistance Programme. Give us a call on 0800 414 8179 or visit our Business Healthcare page to find out how we could help your business.


Read our blog ‘Minimising presenteeism and the costs to your business’, to discover some other ways you can help minimise it at your company, by addressing some of the key causes