Presenteeism fuelling stress in the workplace

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents have attended work while ill in the past three months, according to research by Robertson Cooper.

Despite this, its research, from a dataset of more than 54,000 employees, found that UK workplaces do not seem to be recognising or managing this issue.

The research, which was last conducted between 2007 and 2010, found that the top sources of stress in the workplace have changed since that time period.

Between 2007 and 2010, the top source of stress was too much change in the workplace, with 38% of respondents agreeing that this was the case.

Between 2011 and 2013, however, the top concern for respondents was not having enough time to do their job as well as they would like, cited by 33%.

In the latest research, 33% of respondents also said their pay and benefits are not as good as other people doing the same or similar work, while 29% feel they have little control over many aspects of their job, and 24% said they are not involved in decisions that affect their job.

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University and founder of Robertson Cooper (pictured), said: “Our data shows that people are experiencing new levels and sources of stress at work and this has lead to a culture whereby certain individuals are too afraid to be off sick.

“It’s a vicious circle that leads to presenteeism, rather than absenteeism, and lower productivity. Crucially, this lower productivity fuels the new top source of stress, which is not having enough time to complete their job.

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“On any given day, there could be hundreds of thousands of people at work who are there in body, but not in spirit.

“UK industry is already lagging behind Europe by up to 20% in terms of productivity per head. These figures show that unless we take workplace stress seriously and manage its effects, it’s going to be extremely difficult to bridge that gap.”