Presenteeism: Performance anxiety and mental health

Stephen Bevan, who is the Head of Human Resources at the Institute for Employment Studies, states that people with anxiety may have a tougher time at their job.

“Presenteeism” refers to a situation when someone is at work but is not feeling up to par, or may be unwell. The term is used when for an individual who is not 100% at work, not at their best and feeling unwell or maybe a little distracted.⁠

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A recent study has revealed that choosing to go to work when ill is often driven by a fear of being labelled 'unable to handle the pressure' or 'unreliable', respectively.

Head of human resources research development at the UK’s Institute for Employment Studies, Stephen Bevan, claims that if employees link being present at work with the prospect of promotion, or the type of work they might be given responsibility for, it can mean those with anxiety or depression are more likely to struggle on the job instead of taking time off.

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“If employees link being present at work during depression, or the type of work they might be given responsibility for, it can mean those with anxiety or depression are more likely to struggle in coming days,” Bevan explains.

If health problems are ignored, then it can turn into a more serious and longer-term issue, most of the times, there are situations where people will be overlooking serious underlying health problems.

Turning up for work during an illness has a longer-term impact on productivity, because the recovery period is extended – and that is not to mention the effect it can have on others.

Reportedly, 20 productive days were lost per employee to presenteeism, and only 29 per cent of employees were affected in 2014. Now, almost 45 per cent of workers are affected and, an additional 15 days are lost each year.

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This may be a positive result of increased awareness and openness about presenteeism because the problem was previously under-reported.

Different surveys have revealed that presenteeism is most common among younger employees. Workers in their twenties or under lose more than 50 per cent of productive time to presenteeism than those in their late forties.

Moreover, studies further reveal that the shorter work week and longer weekends are perfect and ideal for mental health. You can read more on Study Shows Shorter Work Weeks Are More Beneficial for Mental Health by Sanniah Hassan.

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