Is overwork and presenteeism ruining your workforce?

We’ve written on the blog before about the problems of presenteeism. This is when employees continue to turn up for work despite being physically or mentally unwell.

Old-fashioned management will hail this as displaying loyalty and grit, while those more in touch with modern research will know that presenteeism can lead to a dramatic drop in productivity due to factors such as spreading infection around enclosed environments and forcing coworkers to carry the slack of the underperforming ill employee.

Excessive presenteeism, as well as a part of the problem of entrepreneurial burnout, usually appears in business cultures which have a “bums-in-seats” approach to attendance, where the amount of time you show your face at work is strongly correlated with your perceived performance. This can be intensified by misguided positive rewards, such as an award for 100% attendance, or by negative policies such as not providing contractual sick pay.

This combination of pressure to turn up to work when ill combined with pressure to work longer hours can lead to long-term health problems, which will only lower the productivity more.

Studies have shown that long-term overwork, particularly under stressful conditions, can lead to employees developing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. This can then lead to many more sick-days than would otherwise be the case. In the 2017/18 year, work-related stress, anxiety and depression was estimated by the HSE to be responsible for 57% of the working days lost to ill health. This could in fact be a conservative result, since a recent survey showed that employers believe the majority of their staff do not tell them the true reason when they can a sick day for mental health reasons.

There can also be physical health problems as a result of overwork. A recent French study showed that people who worked longer than 10 hours a day on 50 or more occasions per year were 29% more likely to have a stroke. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea all have overtime hours worked as an official criterion for diseases such as strokes and heart attacks.

A presenteeism culture and long hours are not only potentially damaging, but they may not even be necessary at all. A study of 1000 British office workers showed that 46% of British workers admitting they routinely stayed at work longer than they need to because everyone else does, and that 64% of respondents said that they believe they could fit their day’s work into a shorter period of time.

Many solutions have been proposed to this dilemma, including increased flexible working and changes such as the 6-hour day or the 4 day week.

Time and Attendance UK supplies an extensive range of workforce management solutions that cater for all the requirements of the modern workplace, including flexible working. We make it easy for you to keep track of and pay your flexible workers – so companies have no excuse to claim difficulty or hard work for treating their flexible workers differently.

The system can supply working rules for a variety of purposes, from simple determination of overtime by the number of daily hours worked, to the more complex payment of overtime hours adjusted when periodic targets are not met. The system also contains special rules to accommodate the formal flexitime contracts worked by many public sector employees. Workers paid on an annual contract basis can receive reports stating how many contracted hours they have yet to work.

Additionally, our top-range WinTA suite features a Self Service Module which allows staff to clock IN or OUT, check hours, request leave and a range of other functions via their browser or their mobile phone.

With the mobile Self-Service Module, staff can call in from outside the office. The system can even record their GPS location when they call in, in order to make sure their location is correct. This makes it an ideal system for remote workers, freelancers, or roles with a lot of time away from the office such as salesperson, social worker or carer.

If you’d like to find out more about the range of workforce management and Time and Attendance solutions supplied by Time and Attendance UK and how we can help your company implement thorough and reliable flexible working arrangements, just contact us or book a demo.