Increasing numbers of employees are now too afraid to call in sick over fears that their absence will be viewed as a sign of weakness or a lack of commitment to their role.


In fact, according to AXA PPP Healthcare research, 79% of workers are too afraid to admit they are ill and take a day off from work.


Also known as presenteeism, employees are likely to attend work despite feeling unwell, which can often go unnoticed by employers, as they may not notice if a worker is sick and should be at home resting.


And it seems that presenteeism figures are on the rise. According to a CIPD report, 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 76% in 2016 and 26% in 2010.


While there is a common misconception that employees being absent from work may be more costly to a business than if they were at work, presenteeism can in fact be more harmful to a business.


For example, a Health at Work Economic Evidence Report discovered that for every one-pound cost of an absent employee, there’s estimated to be an additional cost of £2.50 due to presenteeism.


While the business may suffer from ill employees, the employees’ team will suffer too if they have to pick up additional workloads because the employee keeps coming into work and is too ill to get anything done.


However, there are options that HR departments can put in place to help cut down presenteeism levels. AXA PPP Healthcare shared the following tips:


Flexible working

If employees have the option of working remotely, they will have a better chance of improving their health, while also being able to still manage and carry out their tasks. Meanwhile, research carried out by Moorepay found that 72% of businesses believe introducing flexible working policies can reduce absenteeism by 11% or more.


Allow employees to switch off

Encouraging staff members to switch off out of hours is imperative to help improve someone’s health and wellbeing. Therefore, it’s important to avoid emailing out of work hours, encouraging staff to take their lunch break and promoting leaving the office on time.


Open dialogue

Promoting a culture of open dialogue will allow employees to open-up to their line manager about their health if they are feeling under the weather or if they are struggling with their workload and feeling burnt out. This can help to ensure employees are asking for help when they need it.