Employees are an important part of any business. But in SMEs, a smaller team means that your people are even more vital to the overall success of your business. So when a team member is off work due to ill health, it can have a noticeable impact.
However, employees turning up to work despite being unwell could be having an even bigger impact on your business than sickness absence.
Sickness absence in small businesses
According to figures from the ONS, 131.2 million working days were lost due to sickness in 2017. Of these lost days, the biggest causes of absence were1:
- Minor illnesses (26%)
- Musculoskeletal problems (21%)
- Other (including accidents, poisonings, infectious diseases etc.) (15%)
- Stress, depression and anxiety (10%)
It’s no surprise that staff sickness absence can have a negative effect on small businesses. However, the extent to which it may be costing them can often go undocumented. According to one study, over 70% of businesses admitted that absence has a direct effect on profitability although more than a third of these have no idea how much absentees have cost them2.
What is presenteeism?
While much attention is often paid to the rate of sickness absence within an organisation, presenteeism levels can often fall under the radar if it goes unnoticed.
Presenteeism occurs when employees attend work despite being unwell. This could be as a result of issues with their physical or mental health. Unlike with sickness absence, presenteeism can be hard for employers to spot amongst their team, as they may not notice any symptoms or indications that someone is unwell. However, presenteeism may be more common than some business leaders and managers may think. According to a CIPD report, 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72% in 2016 and 26% in 20103.