The business case for a healthy workplace

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What costs companies more: staff taking sick leave when they aren’t sick or people turning up in an unproductive state?

The business case for a healthy workplace: what impacts the tendency to take sick leave?

Absenteeism (being off work for any reason) and presenteeism (being present but unproductive) represent a costly problem for companies and an income protection risk for staff. Accordingly, businesses are keen to understand the factors that lead employees to take leave or to become unproductive, but a close look at the data illustrates why neither problem is easily solved.

Reducing absenteeism isn’t as simple as encouraging healthier staff because sickness isn’t the only reason for leave, as highlighted by Professor Gordon L. Clark, the director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford. “Absenteeism is usually either a gesture of rebellion by employees who dislike the culture of the organization in which they work, or an employee’s lack of engagement with the purpose or larger goals and objectives of the organization.”

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Furthermore, reducing absenteeism can’t be achieved at the expense of productivity because presenteeism is equally problematic. “Presenteeism is also a reflection of the culture of an organization in many cases. And it goes to the unwillingness or inability of an organization to put boundaries around what they expect of people,” adds Professor Clark.

Click on the interactive below to discover some of the other surprising reasons for workplace absence and the price employers pay for this unscheduled leave.