“Presenteeism” Spreading Through the Workplace

Posted on: Monday, November 26th, 2012
Posted in: HR FYI, Blog | Leave a comment

The BreakAway gospel preaches that we should take temporary retirement throughout our working years. But the career-break culture goes beyond that—and includes good-times time-management tricks like using all your vacation days, committing to meaningful hobbies, and skipping work altogether (especially when ill).

Stay home, sickos!”

Local journalist Jeff Strickler recently took on the “presenteeism” problem, and found ample evidence that sick employees are heading to work in droves. One reason for it is the increased use of paid time off (PTO), which means that if you use your days off for illness, you’ll have fewer left for vacation. But other explanations include…

  • Job security. “I’m a trooper, right?”
  • Pressure from management. “You look fine to me!”
  • Over-dedication. “I’m so awesome and important!”
  • The recession. “I must appear indispensable!”
  • Missing work due to sick kids. “I don’t have time to be sick.”
  • Denial. “No! I’m fine! Really!” <Cough, snort, hack…>

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, empoyees working at “diminished capacity” cost businesses around $250 billion a year. They’re also more likely to get injured, make mistakes, and, of course, make their co-workers sick.

When it’s your time for some unfettered freedom, fly away! But when it’s your time to be sick, stay home! You’ll feel much better for it.

We all will.

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