Levels of presenteeism on the rise

The average level of employee absence has fallen from 7.7 days in 2011 to 6.8 days per employee per year in 2012, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth.

The CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence management survey found that, with the fall in absence, there has been an increase in presenteeism reported by almost a third of respondents.

The research also found that stress-related absence and mental health problems in employees have also risen. Two-fifths (40% of respondents reported a rise in stress-related absence and 10% reported a decrease. The number of respondents reporting a rise in employees experiencing mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, has more than doubled in the last three years, from 21% in 2009 to 44% in 2012. 

It also found that organisations that have reported an increase in presenteeism in the last year are more likely to report an increase in stress-related absence and mental health problems.

Jill Miller, research adviser at CIPD, said: “We urge employers to examine whether lower absence levels within their organisation are as a result of more effective absence management or if they reflect the negative impact of presenteeism.

“Overall, a proactive approach to supporting employee wellbeing and managing absence, which includes training managers to manage people effectively and early access to occupational health services, remains critical to success.”  

The research also found:

  • The main causes of stress in the workplace include: increasing workload, considerable organisational change and restructuring, and management style.
  • More than half (55%) of respondents said they have a wellbeing strategy in place, compared with 46% in 2010 and 2011.
  • Organisations that evaluate their wellbeing spend were significantly more likely to have increased their spend this year (44% compared with 16%).