Understanding and Addressing the Issue of Presenteeism in the Workplace

Presenteeism, where employees are physically present at the workplace but not fully engaged due to illness or other medical conditions, can significantly impact productivity. According to recent findings, presenteeism can reduce individual productivity by up to one-third, potentially exceeding the costs associated with absenteeism. While absenteeism is visible and measurable, presenteeism is often hidden, making it a subtle yet more insidious challenge for employers.

The Scope of the Problem

The economic impact of presenteeism is considerable. It not only affects the individual health of employees but also leads to a marked decrease in overall workplace productivity. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it is estimated that presenteeism costs the Australian economy more than $34 billion annually. Industries such as Information media and telecommunications, Accommodation and food services, and Retail are particularly at risk, reflecting higher prevalence rates of psychological distress among workers.

Identifying Presenteeism

Given the elusive nature of presenteeism, identifying affected employees requires a nuanced approach. Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism does not entail overt signs—like absence from work. Therefore, it’s crucial for employers and HR professionals to implement strategies that can help discern and manage this issue effectively.


Solutions to Address Presenteeism



Presenteeism is a prevalent and costly issue within the workplace, overshadowing even absenteeism in its negative impact on productivity. By implementing comprehensive mental health support, flexible work arrangements, and promoting a supportive work culture, employers can effectively address presenteeism. Awareness and intervention are critical; recognising the signs and acting promptly can make a notable difference in both employee wellbeing and organisational performance.

References and Sources


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