Employers can save money and improve the health of their staff if they manage presenteeism alongside sickness absence, according to a discussion paper produced by Business in the Community (BITC) and Centre for Mental Health. 'Managing Presenteeism' examines how employers can deal with reduced productivity among people who come to work and are not fully engaged or perform at lower levels as a result of ill-health. The paper says simple, low-cost measures that can cut the costs of presenteeism include training for line managers in recognising the signs of mental ill-health, creating an open atmosphere for staff to talk about health issues, and recording presenteeism through staff surveys. BITC's Workwell Director Louise Aston said managing presenteeism effectively 'not only saves money in both the short and longer term, but also contributes to the development of an engaged and productive workforce. Progressive employers are increasingly recognising the need to actively manage presenteeism.' Centre for Mental Health joint chief executive Professor Bob Grove said: 'Presenteeism from mental ill-health costs the UK economy £15 billion a year. This is almost double the cost of sickness absence due to mental ill-health. And presenteeism is growing as white collar jobs become more common and more people carry on working while unwell.' He added: 'Employers need to manage presenteeism alongside absenteeism. The two are intimately connected and cannot be managed separately. Bearing down on sickness absence, for example, could simply increase the costs of presenteeism, whereas managing absence more flexibly may help to cut the costs of both.' A German study this year found that presenteeism, where the working wounded labour on despite being ill, costs twice as much as sickness related absence from work (Risks 510).
Briefing document (300 words) issued 1 Jul 2011
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