Reported levels of “presenteeism” – or turning up for work while unwell or injured – have more than tripled since 2010, according to a survey of more than 1000 employers carried out by the CIPD and health insurance group Simplyhealth.
The results of the Health and Wellbeing at Work survey, formerly known as the Absence Management survey, show that 88% of organisations had seen evidence of presenteeism in the past 12 months. This compares to 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010.
But action on the issue is in decline. Just a quarter of respondents that have experienced presenteeism (25%) say their organisation has taken steps to discourage it over the last year, a figure that has almost halved since 2016 (48%).
The survey also identified the growing problem of “leaveism,” reported by 69% of respondents in their organisation over the last year: either because employees worked outside contracted hours to get work done, or because they used allocated time off to work.
This year, more respondents (55%) have reported an increase in common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, among employees in the last 12 months, compared with 2016 (41%).
Over a fifth of employers now report that mental ill-health is the primary cause of long-term absence, at 22% of the sample compared to 13% in 2016.
However, only half of respondents agreed that their organisation encourages openness about mental health, and is effective at supporting people with mental ill-health.
Stress appears to be more endemic in the public sector, where it ranks top among organisations’ principle causes of long-term absence, identified by 71% compared with 45% of private sector businesses and 33% of manufacturing and production firms.
Workload/volume of work remains the most common cause of stress in the public sector (66% include it as a top three cause), followed by management style (40%), organisational change/ restructuring (34%), non-work relationships/family (26%) and work relationships (24%).