The True Cost of Presenteeism

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT – Hastee Pay CEO James Herbert explains why and how businesses should be tackling both absenteeism and presenteeism.

On the surface presenteeism sounds like the favourable alternative to absenteeism, with happy, engaged workers fulfilling their day to day tasks and contributing to a fulfilling culture in a thriving organisation. On closer inspection, presenteeism isn’t so much of a good thing. We’ve all turned up for work when we’ve not felt up to it for one reason or another – often feeling too pressured to take the time out that we need.

Recent figures suggest people are regularly putting physical and mental health problems aside to show up for work. The CIPD’s Health and Well-Being at Work Report revealed 83 per cent of respondents have observed presenteeism in their organisation. A quarter of respondents (25 per cent) said the problem had escalated over the previous year.

While the display of dedication from today’s workers might seem worthy of applause, employers need to address presenteeism in the same way that they tackle absenteeism. They should be doing this for two reasons.

Firstly, employers have an obligation to safeguard the physical and mental health of their workers. Secondly, business productivity also suffers if workers are showing up when they’re not in great physical or mental shape.

Living their best lives

More than 40 per cent of employees said their work was being affected by health problems during a recent study by health insurer Vitality. When it comes to typical health issues, employers are powerless. There’s little employers can do to stop people from catching the common cold or flu. But measures can be taken to protect their workers from diminishing mental health.

This can be achieved by approaching a subject we Brits are reluctant to discuss: our relationship with money. When it comes to dealing with modern financial demands, poor money management can leave workers lacking the funds to enjoy their time away from the workplace. This could manifest in various ways, such as putting in more overtime to make ends meet or staying at work for longer in the hope being considered for the next round of promotions. Both could easily lead to burnout.

Employers can’t simply throw more money at every worker, but a financial wellbeing programme that provides education, advice and tools will help the workforce to manage their money in line with modern financial demands. Financial wellbeing means providing workers with the peace of mind that they are able to manage their day to day finances and have the tools to help them successfully make ends meet. It also means ensuring workers have the financial freedom to live a happy, fulfilling life. 

A new kind of wellbeing

More than half of workers (54 per cent) say frequency of pay has an impact on our lifestyle choices according to Hastee Pay’s 2018 Workplace Wellbeing Study. The same study found a staggering 78 per cent of workers rely on high cost credit options such as credit cards, overdrafts and pay day loans between pay days.

For employers, giving workers more flexible budgeting options and greater control over how they access their pay could be the difference between a happy, engaged workforce and a business that is floundering when it comes to engagement and productivity.

Financial wellbeing is still a relatively new concept so many businesses are only just beginning to comprehend, but instead of requiring any kind of investment, this challenge is being overcome with cost-free solutions already in play in today’s forward-thinking workplaces. 

Earnings on demand is an existing type of employee benefit that enables workers to receive a portion of their earned pay immediately through a smartphone app, without having to wait until pay day. This provides employees with flexible budgeting options that allow keep up with a modern lifestyle and modern financial demands.

Ethics at the heart of change

We’ve all experienced those cash-strapped moments – an unexpected energy bill, emergency childcare fees, the pressures of the costly Christmas period. Instead of those dangerous high cost credit options so many workers currently rely on, earnings on demand is a smart and efficient way for employees to manage their finances month by month. The crucial difference is they’re using money they’ve already earned, not money they’ve borrowed.

According to the Workplace Wellbeing Report, only 16 per cent of employers offer financial wellbeing programmes. Employers can quickly become leaders in financial wellbeing by implementing solutions that can be operated at zero cost to the business, with no impact on cash flow. Earnings on demand solutions allow workers to receive advanced payments on a portion of their earned wages using an app, with no interest to pay.

Workers are safeguarded against misusing the solution through caps on the monthly withdrawal limit based on a percentage of their pay and providing a safety buffer for the end of the month. Employers are protected, workers are protected, and both parties are doing their bit to promote healthy, helpful budgeting within the workforce.

We’re now living in the age of the destination employer where the benefits you offer can heavily influence the quality of talent you recruit and retain. But the benefits you implement can also influence how well people in your organisation work.

Beyond finding the right balance between absenteeism and presenteeism, solutions like earnings on demand are key to building a stronger, happier and healthier company culture with productivity on tap.