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Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion
Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion

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4.3 The problem of presenteeism

This is how the CIPD view presenteeism and leaveism, which you’ll consider further in the next activity:

Presenteeism (people working when unwell) and leaveism (employees using allocated time off such as annual leave to work or if they are unwell, or working outside contracted hours) are not the signs of a healthy workplace. With debate continuing about the wellbeing risks of an ‘always on’ culture and the rapid increase in homeworking, organisations need to ensure that the boundaries between people’s work and home lives do not become blurred.

(CIPD, 2022)

Activity 8 Has presenteeism gone digital?

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Read this article (1500 words) titled Why presenteeism wins out over productivity [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] from BBC Worklife (Lufkin, 2021). As you read it, keep the following questions in mind:

  • To what extent was presenteeism an issue in your workplace pre-COVID, and how has that changed over the last two years, with increased remote and hybrid working?
  • What impact does it have on your personal wellbeing?
  • What impact does it have on your team or department?
  • If you’re a manager or a leader, what steps are you taking to tackle presenteeism?

Note down the key points that resonate with you. You can use the box below.

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According to the CIPD’s April 2022 report Health and Wellbeing at Work 2022, working when ill (presenteeism) remains prevalent – and is even higher for those working from home (81% versus 65% among those in a workplace). This culture can result in mental ill health and increased stress for employees, which can lead to long-term sickness. It is therefore a problem that cannot be ignored if your organisation is to succeed.

It is important that organisations do not abandon the benefits of flexible working, which has been opened up to a much wider range of employees than before the pandemic. Finding the right balance might take a period of experimentation in which employers and employees try out a range of options before choosing to permanently adopt what works well. However, a culture of presenteeism should never be part of this.