Sickness presenteeism negatively impacting businesses

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Almost half of UK workers went to work over the last year despite being ill

Almost half (48%) of UK workers went to work over the last year despite being ill, according to research from reward platform One4all Rewards.

The Health in the Workplace Report found that 40% of employees have not taken a single day off for illness in the last 12 months, despite 11% of people stating that they had been unwell as a result of their jobs in the last year.

Twenty-eight per cent of those surveyed said that they feel under pressure from bosses to go into work even when ill.

Declan Byrne, managing director of One4all Group, said: “Many workers believe that employers don’t care about their health. Therefore it’s important that businesses take proactive steps to help employees look after their health and wellbeing.

“Those that do are likely to see the results add to their bottom line, with greater productivity, staff retention and the ability to recruit better candidates all shown to be enhanced by company health schemes.”

These findings coincide with research released by Nottingham Trent University, which suggests ‘sickness presenteeism’ – the act of attending work when ill – was strongly and negatively linked to job satisfaction and work engagement. Both decreased as presenteeism increased.

“People may disengage from work when ill, but still feel a need to work because they are physically present in the workplace,” said Maria Karanika-Murray, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social Sciences.

“People who attend work while ill may judge their work to be of lower quality, produce less, and perform worse compared to what they expect of themselves,” she said. “They are not able to engage with work as they would normally and this can lead to reduced productivity and in turn lower levels of satisfaction.

“As well as having a negative impact on employee health and being costly for organisations, sickness presenteeism is also a risk factor for future poor health and mental wellbeing. Understanding the effect that presenteeism is having on businesses and their workers can enable them to develop effective interventions to tackle it,” Karanika-Murray added.

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