CIPD: Presenteeism rife as 28 per cent ‘feel pressured to work when ill’. Research with more than 2,000 employees has revealed a trend which has serious implications for employee health. The survey, from One4all Rewards, found that almost half (48 per cent) of UK employees have gone into work when ill in the last year, two fifths haven’t taken a single day off sick in past 12 months and more than a quarter (28 per cent) reported that their manager or the firm’s leader put pressure on them to work while they are unwell.
The findings, which are in part the result of the ‘always on’ work culture prevalent in Britain, suggest that there are now high levels of presenteeism with employees failing to leave their work space for lunch breaks, holidays or even when they are ill.
Published in The Health in the Workplace Report, the findings showed that UK staff are reluctant to move away from their desks when they are in good health, with 23 per cent of us working through our lunch breaks on a daily basis and 19 per cent admitting that they regularly work during holidays, even answering calls or responding to emails.
The report said that this “epidemic of presenteeism” – defined as the practice of being present at work for more hours than is required, or when ill – is having a negative impact on workers’ heath.
Work is a regular cause of stress for many people, the study said, and only 17 per cent of people said they found it easy to switch off and forget about their work at the end of the day. And more than a fifth (22 per cent) reported regularly feeling high degrees of work-related stress.
In some cases such presenteeism is it also the direct cause of illness, with 11 per cent of respondents reporting that they have been unwell as a result of their jobs in the last year.
Declan Byrne, managing director of One4all Rewards, said: “Many workers believe that employers don’t care about their health. Therefore, it’s important that businesses take proactive steps to help workers look after their health and well-being.
“Those that do are likely to see the results add to their bottom line, with greater productivity, staff retention and the ability to recruit better candidates all shown to be enhanced by company health schemes.”