Could presenteeism cost you your job?

In today’s economy, we all worry about job cuts, and employers want the most out of their staff. How can you keep up your workday performance? A new large study found that workers who exercised and had healthy eating habits were more productive than those who didn’t. They study focused on presenteeism – working when you know you’re not performing optimally

In a sense, presenteeism is the opposite of absenteeism, in which the employee doesn’t come to work. The term was coined by Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist specializing in organisational management at The University of Manchester

You may think that never leaving your desk for active breaks or lunches will show how dedicated you are to your job. But the health risks of sitting too long can come back to bite you. Workers who exercised rarely were 50% more likely to have reduced productivity than those who got regular exercise. You may want to maximize your break-time walks to sneak in enough exercise to maintain your productivity. You could also pressure your employers into providing exercise facilities to maintain employee productivity. This can be done by designating walking/running courses at the work site or nearby, starting a workplace exercise challenge, providing a gym or subsidising health club memberships

Smokers were 28 percent more likely to report suffering from a drop in productivity than non-smokers. Enough said!

Eating a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables is one key to maintaining performance. The study found that those who didn’t eat healthily were 66 percent more likely to report having experienced a loss in productivity. And if they didn’t eat a healthy diet during the work day, they were 93% more likely to have decreased productivity. Time to pack a healthy lunch or pay attention to the nutrition information in the cafeteria! As with exercise, you should pressurise your employer into thinking about what they’re stocking in snack machines and providing in the cafeteria

For employers it will be more than worth it. In 2010 the government’s Foresight project on mental capital and well being estimates the annual cost of presenteeism in terms of lost productivity to be £966m in the UK. This is compared with their estimate of the cost of absenteeism – only £750m per year! This gap in cost is even more striking when you think about the level of resources dedicated to managing absence in UK organisations versus those explicitly allocated to presenteeism

Stay healthy, stay working!

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