This International Stress Awareness Week – from 4th to 8th November 2019 – organised by the International Stress Management Association, we are encouraging employers to address stress in the workplace to tackle rising presenteeism – employees going into work sick.

New research from Canada Life Group Insurance found that 89% of workers had not taken a day off when they weren’t feeling well – this is the equivalent of 29 million UK employees going into work sick. Of those who admitted to working while unwell, three in five (58%) said it was because they did not believe they were ill enough to warrant a day off, while a quarter (27%) said it was because they had too much work on.

Almost a quarter (24%) also said they would feel more comfortable taking time off for illness if there was less pressure from the boss to be ‘always on’ and working.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) increased presenteeism is associated with increases in reported common mental health conditions, as well as stress-related absence. CIPD says that stress is the second top cause of long-term absence.

If people are going into work sick because they feel stressed out with high workloads or fear of losing their jobs, employers need to know this, so they can address these concerns. Presenteeism and absenteeism can seem like opposites, but they both arise from poor absence management practices and employers not understanding the causes behind them.

It’s not about making people feel uncomfortable, it’s about having the right technology in place to record absences, spot trends and ensure back to work interviews are carried out effectively to give people a chance to speak about any issues they may be having.

 Uncovering the root causes of absence and working with people to address any concerns is key to tackling rising presenteeism and absenteeism. Using absence management software alongside best practice HR is the only effective way to do this.

Here are my tips for managing stress in the workplace:

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