Presenteeism an ‘epidemic’

Desjardins finds most people go to work even if exhausted or ill


More than eight in 10 workers (83 per cent) have headed into the workplace when they felt exhausted or ill, according to a recent survey by Desjardins Financial Security.

The main reasons for presenteeism are “looming deadlines” (61 per cent), preventing workload pile-up (55 per cent), not wanting colleagues to be overloaded (49 per cent), concern about being “frowned upon” (41 per cent) and not being able to afford the missed income (40 per cent).

And yet most workers in the phone survey of 1,594 Canadians believe people should not be working when physically (93 per cent) or psychologically (91 per cent) unwell.

Organizational flexibility could help, with managers cultivating an environment in which it is acceptable for people to stay at home when they aren’t feeling well or to work from home, says Kathy Jurgens, mental health works program coordinator at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario.

“You see people saving up their sick days for when their kids are home sick. After using up sick days, there’s a mental calculation of ‘Now I can’t get sick again all year,” she says.

When it comes to stress, 85 per cent of workers agree the work environment is increasingly stressful. And three-quarters believe workers today do not receive adequate recognition from their employers and workers today are overworked (74 per cent).
As a result, 67 per cent are ready to turn down a promotion if it means working more hours and 53 per cent would work less for less pay.

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