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Five tips for employers to deal with 'presenteeism'

'Presenteeism' is a hot topic in workplaces this year. If you're not familiar, it's when employees work longer hours than required or put aside both mental and physical health problems to attend work.

Last year, more than 70% of employers reported observing presenteeism at work in the UK, according to a study from Robert Half UK. On top of this, research by health insurer Vitality shows that more than 40% of employees admit that their work has been affected by health problems - a figure that has risen by a third within the last five years.

London seems to be a city suffering it the most. CIPD reported that more than four-fifths (83%) of the working population in London have suffered from presenteeism in their organisation, with a quarter (25%) claiming the problem to have got worse in the last year. And with technology more prominent than ever before, it's easier for people to be switched on and contactable at all hours.

While working longer hours sounds like it could mean better outcomes for the business, it actually results in the opposite. Longer hours can make for stressed and exhausted employees, meaning more room for mistakes and ironically, a lower rate of productivity. Combine this with the stress of being overworked, and you're bound to end up with unhappy, unhealthy employees. 

Our tips for managing presenteeism: 

- Set a precedent to openly communicate when it comes to workload. Offer help to those employees who are feeling snowed under or are facing unrealistic deadlines. 

- Implement a robust wellbeing programme for all employees that offers services and solutions for physical and mental health. Make sure your programme addresses real problems in the workplace, and offers genuine solutions to ensure the employees get value from this and feel cared for. 

- Conduct an employee survey as a general health check. This will help you uncover the core issues of employee wellbeing in the office and will act as a step in the right direction for reducing workplace stress, improving productivity, and decreasing absenteeism and turnover. 

- Be flexible about remote working. You could start by allowing employees to work one day at home per week to ensure they have an adequate break from an office environment. This can encourage both productivity and positivity, while developing a new level of trust between managers and employees. 

- Encourage employees to switch off their work emails when they leave the office each day. This will prevent them from checking their phones at home and falling into a toxic working habit. You can even create an out of office email for employees to switch on when they leave the office each day.

And while managing presenteeism, employers need to avoid the rising trend of 'leavism', which is where employees work on their holidays so they aren't associated as lazy or a poor employee. Obviously employees are entitled to leave and need to feel comfortable taking it, to help recuperate and refresh the mind and body. Overall, the best thing employers can do is to encourage positive working conditions and a stable work-life balance. 

At Healthy Nibbles we are committed to putting the health of employees first. We enable healthier choices through our healthy snacking solutions, including snack boxes, healthy vending and bespoke services. Want to see the difference we can make in your office? Contact us today