The Cost of Presenteeism to productivity

By Rebecca Sanderson – Director of The Mindset Clinic

6 April 2016

Presenteeism leads to ‘leavism’

Presenteeism  (staff who come into work when they are ill) – is on the increase. One in three employers have reported an increase of presenteeism leading to a loss in productivity, costing UK businesses a fortune. One third of staff persistently turn up to work when they should be at home according to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) .

sick leave

Presenteeism of sick workers is a big problem for UK businesses

The CIPD’s Absence Management Report in 2015 measured the impact of presenteeism as “twice that of absenteeism”. The survey of 600 employers, representing over 1.5 million staff, revealed that the number of employees attending work when sick has risen for five consecutive years.

More than half (56%) of employers responding to the survey admitted that they hadn’t taken any steps to discourage this kind of behaviour. Perhaps under the mistaken belief that it is better for productivity if their staff attend work. But if operational demands and long working hours take precedent over employee well-being, the cost ultimately could be to the employer.

Workers coming in to work is “more dangerous to the UK economy than absenteeism” warns Professor Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational health at Manchester Business School.

Employers who report an increase in presenteeism are nearly twice as likely (41 per cent) to also report an increase in stress-related absence. In the public sector these absence rates rise to 51%, possibly due to the recent austerity cuts.

Increase spend on well being

So what can employers and organisations do to ensure the well-being of their staff and encourage their most valuable assets take time off work, without seeing a reduction in productivity?

One step is for organisations to increase their well-being spend and offer work forces well-being packages.

Businesses keen to invest in their work force may be interested in the Mindset For Business Programme run by The Mindset Clinic in the UK who specialise in stress and anxiety management. The Mindset Clinic wants to take away the stigma of mental health problems and delivers bespoke tailored coaching packages that seamlessly blend coaching and therapy techniques as and when required so those who are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression can get the help that they need without feeling that they have been singled out.

Mindset For Business is suitable for all employees, whether they have been officially diagnosed with mental health conditions or not.

We see a lot of people who have had to leave their job, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently, due to stress, anxiety and depression. Some of those we see have an official ,mental health diagnosis some don’t. Our aim is to get people feeling healthy and well as soon as possible. We teach people techniques that they can use on an ongoing basis to help them face and be better equipped to deal with the inevitable challenges that they will come across in the future. We can also work with organisations to help them spot presenteeism and offer training to leadership teams to become more open to discussing emotional well-being.

The cost of Presenteeism

On average absenteeism costs an employer £595 per employee per year, so a company with 1000 staff will be spending over half a million pounds a year on staff who are unable to complete the work. But according to CIPD’s statistics presenteeism costs a company twice that of absenteeism:- that’s another £1 million pounds a year lost on those who are showing up to work who should be at home. It makes the investment in well-being packages for staff very good value for money.

The CIPD results show that organisations that evaluate the impact of investing in staff well-being see positive results such as reduced absence rates, improved performance and increased retention levels.  Organisations that measure the impact of their well-being strategies are therefore much more likely to introduce or explore new initiatives.

If you would like to know more about how The Mindset Clinic can help with your well-being strategies please drop a note to