I’m going to introduce a word that you may not have heard before. But trust me. It’s going to become more and more familiar to a lot of employers and employees in the future. And it’s going to be a big part of what people need in their people management skills tool kit.

The word is presenteeism – and it’s on the rise!

Presenteeism was originally used as a word to describe employees who come to work when they are physically or mentally unwell, instead of staying at home and recuperating. This usually happened because they were worried about job security or not being paid and felt they had to be in work, even when they were ill.

More recently, this term has been expanded to describe employees who are completely disengaged in their job. They turn up to work every day but are not really “present” in their work. 

A survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) found that a massive 72% of organisations had experienced presenteeism in the last year. They went on to suggest that presenteeism is one of the biggest threats to UK productivity and a key issue for companies that want to look after the well-being of their staff.

We all know that we are less productive when we are not feeling 100%. We also know that being dis-engaged in your job can lead to more mistakes, as well as a significant drop in morale. All these things together can cause a huge, detrimental impact on the overall performance of a business. In fact, Presenteeism can actually be more expensive for a business than other health-related costs.

So how can we stop this?

Well, 57% of employees say they would stay in their job longer if companies made more effort to look after their wellbeing, and 58% believe their work would be of better quality if there were more measures in place.

Simple things like encouraging staff to take time off when sick, working from home policies and reviewing company sick pay policies will all help. But the biggest difference you can make as a manager is to understand why your staff are disengaged with their job.

Perhaps they are over-worked or feel undervalued, maybe their work-life balance is out of kilter, or maybe they are just bored and need a new challenge. Whatever the reason, understanding how to spot the signs of a disengaged employee and what to do about it, are skills that are becoming more and more vital in today’s workplace.

If you want to learn how to recognise a disengaged employee, take a look at this new video on employee engagement. You’ll see some really simple techniques to make sure you are engaging with your team, and the crucial difference between positive and negative engagement.

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