Last week, global office solutions brand Fellowes released their latest research into the phenomenon known as ‘presenteeism culture’, wherein workers who really should have taken a sick day force themselves through the working week rather than taking the time to rest up. They say such a culture is a growing problem throughout the UK, resulting in further negative health effects and a drop in productivity.

They are now urging business leaders to take steps to combat the growing trend.

Img: Leonid Mamchenkov
The research reveals that 52% of UK workers have gone, or continue to go, to work when their performance is negatively affected by illness or other work-related health issues, which not only compromises the employee’s productivity but also extends the duration of the illness. It also increases the likelihood of such illnesses spreading to other staff members, which could in turn cause significant issues as the workforce falls victim, one-by-one, to a particularly nasty bug.

In fact, when it comes to work-related health issues, the British are amongst the worst affected in Europe, and our workplaces are at least in part to blame. The research shows that UK employees suffer regularly from backache (34%), neck ache (25%) and headaches (23%) as a direct result of their working environment. Such issues chip away at our concentration, and our productivity then suffers as a result.

However, whilst a large number of senior managers are aware that they should prioritise good morale (51%), productivity (50%), and the creation of a healthy workplace (39%), a staggering 44% of the British workforce believe that their employers are not doing enough to promote general wellbeing and health in the workplace. Only 39% of employees are even aware that their employers offer health and wellbeing initiatives at all.

57% of UK employees openly admit that they would be encouraged to stay in their jobs for a longer duration if more effort was made to care for employees’ wellbeing, and 58% say their performance would also improve in terms of quality, so this need to address this issue is clear.

Louise Shipley, European Business Team Manager for Workspace Management at Fellowes, said of the research and its implications, “Our findings signal serious problems with how organisations are approaching wellbeing and productivity in the workplace. They show a clear lack of awareness around the causes and effects of a presenteeism culture in the office.

“With European businesses already losing a staggering €73 billion annually due to absenteeism, employers simply can’t disregard the worsening problem of presenteeism taking effect. Happy and healthy employees do better work, and more of it, making the bottom-line impact simply too significant to ignore.

“The tools are there for business leaders to tackle presenteeism and help to prevent the widespread workplace health issues that are dragging down productivity and work quality. It’s time for leaders to take the reins and drive a potentially huge impact on their organisations.”


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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