A new report has been released from employee benefits experts suggesting that a significant majority of Canadian workers are generally pretty inattentive while at work, and that employers will really have to address this issue at some point because it makes the workplace less safe.
The report, which is entitled “The True Picture of Workplace Absenteeism,” uses the term “presenteeism” to describe the time spent at the workplace while not being productively engaged in work, and their research found that fully 80 per cent of respondents self-reported having experienced time spent at their workplace while not being productively engaged in work. Just as troubling, 81 per cent of respondents knew they could not perform their work as well as they would’ve liked, but went into work anyway. Among the reasons cited include physical illness (47 per cent), stress or anxiety (40 per cent) and issues or problems with coworkers are managers (22 per cent). In fact, approximately 15 per cent specifically cited depression as a reason for going into work and being unproductive.
The study interviewed more than 1,300 Canadians workers, employers and physicians to get these results. Researchers concluded that both absenteeism and presenteeism can greatly contribute to an increased risk of accidents that cause worker injuries or health problems. When workers are absent, often times their co-workers may be expected to do extra work to compensate, and that can lead to excessive fatigue, missed breaks or overtime hours. In some cases, employers choose to replace the absentee worker with a contract worker, who may not be properly trained or have the experience of the worker they are replacing. Keeping a workplace safe requires all the links in the chain being fully present and strong.
Researchers also suggested that dealing with absenteeism in a punitive manner is not the best way to deal with it. Instead, the employer should see the absenteeism as a sign that something is going on and they should collaborate with that worker to improve the overall health of the workplace and possibly eliminate the reason for the absence.
The report is available online here. There are a number of other interesting findings in this report, including the news that 56 per cent of workers tend to be unaware that their employer offers employee-assistance programs and 43 per cent don’t feel their employer provides an environment that supports mental wellness on the job.