How strong is your work ethic? Strong enough to carry you to work with a migraine, or the flu?
Unfortunately, many employees soldier through at work while feeling under the weather, a phenomenon now called “presenteeism.” While employers might be tempted to applaud presenteeism as a strong work ethic, it could be costing companies much more in lost productivity and long-term health care.
There are plenty of reasons why employees might grit their teeth and work through an illness, including fears about job security, being unable to afford unpaid time off, or not having the option to take sick days at all. Instead, they come to work groggy and contagious, risking more frequent and serious mistakes, lesser quality of work, and the chance of infecting coworkers, customers, or clients.
While industrial safety often takes the spotlight, consider the impact of industrial health and wellness.
Presenteeism in Industrial Health
Presenteeism affects industrial health more than many other professions. A report by Yahoo Finance reveals that manufacturing and production employees are some of the most likely workers to catch a cold or the flu, but among the least likely to take time off. Some of the pressures contributing to presenteeism in industrial health include shift work, which often comes with fewer available sick days, and the pressure to clock in or risk job security.
The cost of presenteeism to manufacturing companies? An estimated $2.8 billion.
Installation and repair workers, including staff in field services who repair or troubleshoot electrical control panels, are also among the most likely to persevere through chronic pains and illnesses. Common issues like neck, back, and knee pain can be exacerbated by sustained work without resting periods to recover strength. Rather than restricting costs to the sick day a worker takes, inflaming chronic pains costs employers more in lost productivity over time and health care expenses.
How much more? $1.5 billion.
Ultimately, presenteeism can hit employers for even less visible costs like higher turnover and demotivated workers. It benefits everyone to take industrial health seriously and afford people the opportunity to heal. Companies that invest in their employees' well-being not only avoid the price tag on impacted productivity, but also contribute to a positive workplace culture that inspires employees to care deeply about their work — once they're feeling better.
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