Before COVID-19, presenteeism in the workplace had already been a significant issue. One UK survey found that even before the pandemic, 80% of workers said that presenteeism existed in their workplace. Undoubtedly, it has now risen over the past year, especially with many working from home. 

Nowadays, morale is incredibly important to preserve in a workplace. They can be an indication of how a company performs, and how well employees are treated. One of the things that can affect morale, as well as employee health and productivity, is presenteeism.

The rest of this article will cover what presenteeism is and the cost of presenteeism.

What is presenteeism in the workplace

Presenteeism is when you clock into work when you’re not feeling up to it. Some things that can cause it are feeling ill or not being in the right mindset. For example, employees suffering from depression may force themselves and go to work. 

Depression is one of many struggles that employees may be struggling with when it comes to presenteeism. Other issues can include anxiety, stress, or work burnout. 

Absenteeism can go hand-in-hand with presenteeism because of this. Some people may opt not to go to work because they’re not physically or mentally well.

Unfortunately, poor mental or physical wellbeing can affect a workplace’s productivity and environment. Think about it! Whenever you’re down in the dumps, the last thing you want to do is to head to work. So employees already struggling can feel worse when forced to work.

The cost of presenteeism

There are a few overall costs when employees show up for work when they’re not well. This can include low productivity, inefficiency due to understaffing or fatigue, safety issues, or poor morale in the workplace. 

This can especially happen when organisations don’t provide a supportive environment or are quite strict about how often their employees show up. Whether it’s to do with how many hours they clock in, how many days they show up, or their punctuality. 

Presenteeism has risen drastically, to the point where it has come to cost the economy £26 – £29 billion every year in the UK. Research has also found that young people are the most likely to be affected by presenteeism. Deloitte found that those between the ages of 18-29 were less likely to disclose their mental health struggles with their employers

There are some initiatives that employers can implement to combat the cost of presenteeism or absenteeism. You can address the issue head on by letting employees know they’re supported or sending them home. You can also create a positive environment, or change the work culture to a healthier one. An HR team that prioritises and looks after employee wellbeing is also something worth considering!

Presenteeism can drastically affect the way your employees work. Whether they’re feeling ill or mentally unwell, working regardless can worsen their symptoms. This is why you may want to consider supporting your employees or giving them some time off! You can also consider having a reliable HR team or improving employee wellbeing.


SupportRoom is here to revolutionise the way we access mental support. Nobody should suffer in silence, and we think that therapy support should be immediate and accessible. Register your interest and connect with a therapist right now. 

Our platform offers patients confidential, professional mental health support for individuals and businesses. We connect you with licensed professionals, who can provide round-the-clock support via multiple formats – such as unlimited messaging or video calls.

We also have an Employee Support Platform that provides Employees with on-demand support and detailed analytics to help organisations improve mental health within their workplace, and understand why their employees may suffer from mental health issues. 


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