Workplace Wellness: 7 Ways to Prevent Presenteeism
Have you ever been at work but not really been “at work?” Maybe you were feeling ill, did not get enough sleep the night before, or were worried about a sick relative or your finances. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘presenteeism.’ You are present, but not truly in the moment. Your mind is elsewhere, and you are unable to focus on work, reducing your productivity. A yearlong survey, referred to as the American Productivity Audit, interviewed more than 29,000 working adults and determined that presenteeism in the United States costs employers more than $150 billion per year.
At Wellness Workdays, we have measured rates of presenteeism as high as 60% in some populations, meaning that 60% of employees are going to work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc., often resulting in reduced productivity. Presenteeism can be a result of chronic disease, injury, or any other health, physical or mental condition. Follow these seven guidelines to minimize presenteeism at your workplace.
Encourage sick days
You’ve likely heard this one before, but encouraging your team members to use their sick days to care for themselves demonstrates that you value their health and well-being. When an employee is sick, even if working from home, a break from work to rest and recover is vital for productivity and prevents presenteeism.
See your employees as a person first
Start each meeting with chit-chat. Ask questions and encourage your team to talk about how they’re doing. Employees who feel relaxed and supported are more likely to open up about stressors they may be experiencing and ask for any additional help they need to do their work effectively. Follow up with individuals as needed to show that you care and to provide adequate support and resources.
Focus on food and mood
Encourage employees to eat healthfully by providing healthy options at work. This could be as simple as replacing soda with seltzers and adding low-sugar, nutrient-dense snacks to vending machines. Providing these choices at work gives employees the option to fuel their bodies with the nutrients needed to function properly. If you aren’t in the office or your budget doesn’t allow for food, bring in a Registered Dietitian (in-person or virtually) to discuss how food affects mood, energy levels, and productivity.
Say yes to vacation… or staycation
Studies indicate that performance takes a hit when employees work for extended periods without a break. So it makes sense to encourage employees at all levels of the company to take adequate time off. Vacation (or staycation) time helps employees rest, lower stress, and recharge, improving their overall mental health. Providing paid time off and encouraging employees to take it will not only help employees stay engaged and productive, but also will also remind them that they are valued members of the organization.
Think healthcare for the whole person
Ensuring that employees’ health and well-being are taken care of means more than just providing insurance coverage. For example, the inability to pay for healthcare procedures can be a major source of stress for employees. Offer comprehensive health and wellness resources such as an EAP, financial/401K experts, health coaching, and access to telemedicine to help your workforce deal with a wide range of healthcare-related concerns. Take care of your employees so they can take care of themselves.
Encourage physical activity
The best way to ensure employees are getting physical activity is to make it accessible for them. Encouraging weekly fitness breaks, lunchtime walks, or offering discounts for gym memberships or fitness classes will inspire employees to move more. Individuals who are physically active are happier and more productive at work.
Promote open communication
Always check in with your employees. You can only help problem-solve any issues that arise if you know what’s going on. Providing the opportunity for employees to speak candidly will help you assess their stress levels and workloads in order to provide support and encourage time off when needed. Regularly encouraging an open dialogue with your teams will help you better understand how best to support their productivity in their roles.
It is important to be understanding of your employees’ needs and provide them with adequate time to rest so they can work to their full potential. When employees are given the support they need to take care of themselves, they are able to be happier, healthier, and more productive at work.
Wellness Workdays can help your organization understand, measure, and manage presenteeism. We have more than 20 years of experience designing programs that are both engaging and successful. Contact us to learn more.