3 Ways To Prevent Presenteeism Cost June 4th, 2012, by Ken Buckley
There is nothing new about the “healthy workers are more productive workers” adage. It is indeed even more prevalent now that the flu season has well and truly started.
The flu season is the best time to reassess absenteeism costs as absenteeism due to influenza costs Australian businesses more than two billion dollars each year. There is no doubt that the influenza virus thrives in the office environment, and each winter one in four of your employees will become infected. The financial consequences include increase absenteeism and presenteeism, replacement and overtime costs, and lost or reduced sales and productivity.
However, if you think absenteeism costs are high, look at the recent estimates from Medibank about presenteeism costs. According to Medibank’s report, the price of absenteeism in Australia reaches $6bn annually, while the cost of presenteeism could be as high as $34bn.
Looking at these alarming figures makes it clear that presenteeism represents an issue you, as an employer, can’t ignore.
Interestingly, most of the medical problems that result in presenteeism are, by their nature, relatively benign as more serious illnesses would force employees to stay home despite their high work ethic. Most studies on presenteeism consider the impact of medical conditions such as allergies, depression, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, back and neck problems, and migraines/headaches. Other employee lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep or substance abuse have also a great impact on productivity.
In order to minimise further negative effects to businesses and the economy, Medibank said investments need to be made in the employees’ health and wellness, so that employers can reduce presenteeism rates, increase productivity and, in the long term, generate an overall positive impact on business.
So it’s critical for you as a businesses to:
1) Identify your interal presenteeism costs before deciding on investing in preventive measures such as corporate health programs, or health expos. To do so, the best solution to gather information about your staff’s health and wellbeing is a Health Risk Assessment (HRA). This credible evidence-based tool can assist you to cost effectively diagnose your workplace health needs, and measure your employee wellness and health.
2) Educate your staff about healthy lifestyle, how to manage their own health and wellbeing in the most effective way. To do so, running a corporate health and wellness annual program is the best way to impact on productivity and your bottom line. Include flu vaccination campaign, health seminars, team challenges, health checks, and fun activities as part of your health promotion program.
3) Develop a workplace culture that genuinely promotes flexible work arrangements, as it is a key factor in attracting and retaining skilled staff, decreasing presenteeism and absenteeism and boosting productivity.