Both absenteeism and presenteeism have a significant impact on the corporate bottom line. While typically rooted in the same causation, reflecting equally on the workplace culture and attitude toward wellness, they are often treated very differently.

Absenteeism is both measurable and seen, while presenteeism is the invisible culprit which can cost an organization three-times as much in lost productivity as absenteeism. While the annoyance of not having an employee on the job can be measured, employers can not overlook the impact and significant drain on productivity and morale from someone who is simply a warm seat in the chair and not fully functional. Currently, mental and emotional related illnesses account for more than 70% of disability claims.

Employees may disengage and react differently for the same root causes:

  • Chronic Illness—while one employee may stay home, another may try to “work through” it.
  • Harassment—may cause someone to retreat either physically or emotionally
  • Stress, Finance, Family, Emotional Mental Health Issues—while one employee may want to escape the home to cope via work, another take solace and avoid work.  
  • Lack of motivation—the job is simply not engaging so they don’t show up either physically or mentally. 

While in the past both of these occurrences were thought to be a result of poor hiring skills, research suggests this may be a workplace wellness and culture issue. As many say, the absence of an intentional culture is a culture that you may not want. Putting intention behind workplace wellness will have a significant impact on employee morale and the corporate bottom line. Guidelines and policies which address the known issues of both absenteeism and presenteeism will help by reducing health care related costs in both pharmacy and disability, as well as reducing employee turnover. Remember, having to hire a new employee will typically cost the business 2.5% of the salary you are replacing. 

For the relatively small cost associated with the implementation of an employee assistant program to add substance to the intentional culture plan, businesses will reap the reward of proven strategies and be able to work in collaboration with teams who make this their focus. We all start from where we are and seek to improve. This is measurable in increased moral, engagement, education, as well as improved access to psychological care and training for managers and team leaders. Consider the work-life balance that pays dividends to a corporation due to the employees improved quality of life. 

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