Spending time as a trainer and speaker in the corporate world has exposed me to a costly, somewhat unseen threat to employers. It’s called Presenteeism, where productivity is lost due to employees actually showing up for work, but not being fully engaged and productive while there.
I hear from management and employees that more people are coming to work when they are too distracted to be effective. Whether its coming to work on a day when the employee’s head is somewhere else, like thinking about their sick child they had to leave at home but were afraid of job security or income loss, or just not into their work that day and much more into Facebook and You Tube. Either way the productivity and bottom line suffers.
Some employers who know about this encourage sick or distraught workers to stay home and get appropriate medical or professional attention before returning to work which helps, but what is needed even more is better communication about how engaged your team is with their workload.
I suggest having team meetings and discussing areas that cause presenteeism:

  • Employees have too much work to do so they get overwhelmed and procrastinate or take Twitter breaks throughout the day to cope.
  • Employees are reluctant to use vacation time for illnesses.
  • Employees don’t feel valued so they don’t feel engaged, valued or passionate about what they do.

Keep communicating and let your team know that you won’t feel they are less committed to their jobs if they need to stay home or need to talk to a manger about problems they are having which is distracting them from doing their work. For certain employees when it applies, let them telecommute vs. coming in if they are calling home every 5 minutes checking in on their sick child for instance.
Let your team know you are sensitive and care about their illnesses and personal issues. You can also offer health and wellness programs and childcare services that may have them become more present at work.

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