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Culture of presenteeism has a potential threat

Apr 02 2019 • Written by Smriti Mishra

~ Smriti Jha


The surging rates of presenteeism at work has gained attention across the corporate world. This is the practice of being present at work but not being productive because of illness, disinterest or any other reason.

The employees are forcing themselves to be at work for longer hours than they are actually required to. It is because they are in the race of going -ahead. Also, they simply do not want to be slack for simple and silly reasons and such insecurities at a job let them follow the culture of presenteeism at work.


What research and finding brought to us?

As per one study conducted in three continents led by scientists at University College London, found that those who work more than 55 hours a week have a 33% increased risk of stroke compared with those who work a 35- to 40-hour week. They also have a 13% increased risk of coronary heart disease.


They could not state categorically that working for extended hours cause people to have strokes but there is definitely a strong link.


How the company’s culture of presenteeism is affecting employees and vice versa


The culture of presenteeism at a workplace is associated with lower staff morale, fear of job security, getting noticed for the work errors, huge competition and proving loyalty towards work.

Presenteeism is mostly known to the organizations where a culture of long working hours is the norm and where there is no concept of employee wellbeing as such.

Since the surging rates of presenteeism are known to bring more stress and anxiety at work, it is affecting both employees well- being and the company’s overall productivity.



What employees expect from employers

Employees simply want to be recognized for their hard work. Period. They feel they can be trusted to take time off when they are really unwell or struck in some unavoidable personal work or in case of emergency. When employees are not shown any empathy, their expectation completely fails. They choose to suffer in silence at work and follow the culture of presenteeism.

Here comes the role of Employer’s progressive approach to enable a culture of well-being for the employees.


What are the 3 effective ways the Employers can avoid burnouts following presenteeism in a company?




1. To identify the real cause of disengagement

This is going to work both for employees as well as the employer. If an is employee sick or struck in some emergency, h/she will not be able to focus at the work too. And it’s quite natural that other staffs at the workplace will also get affected. This results in low work-productivity.


  1. Offer them flexible-work-hours

Flexible working hours helps employees to maintain work-life balance. And employees feel distressed and their happiness index adds on to the company’s productive work.


  1. Teamwork and collaboration

Something that cannot be enforced but can be inculcated. Providing training and conducting workshops can bring a positive change in a behavioral mechanism. The feeling of empathy, collaboration, and teamwork is the most important tool to meet work targets.


  1. Be an advocate for a healthy work-life balance

There are some companies who follow the work policies in favor of employees and developing a wellbeing culture. No late night emails and work calls, no sitting for long hours, a break in between, compulsory leaves are strongly encouraged to boost the well-being culture.


Developing a culture of wellbeing is the ultimate solution?


Employees must understand that working with carrying illness may infect their co-workers and the workplace. A message from higher authority of the company must float to strongly discourage the culture of presenteeism and considering it a way to show loyalty towards work and office.

Gym membership, Zumba classes, and ping-pong tables are not sufficient in terms of developing a wellbeing culture. A wellbeing culture is where your employees feel valued and recognized.

Contribute: Do write to us about any wellness program in your company that has led to noticeable gains for your employees, at