Three ways to counteract presenteeism, the modern productivity dilemma

Three ways to counteract presenteeism, the modern productivity dilemma

Whether it’s allergies, chronic back pain or grueling migraines, health conditions don’t just plague employees while at work; they can also result in productivity and financial losses for employers. As we’ve mentioned before, this phenomenon is called presenteeism and it isn’t limited to any particular workforce.

A recent Global Corporate Challenge study revealed that an employee working through a health condition costs a business the equivalent of three months per year in lost productivity.[1] For an employer, this can drastically affect a company’s bottom line.

However, an important aspect about presenteeism that many employers aren’t aware of is if an employee’s condition isn’t treated proactively, it could potentially worsen and lead to a disability leave down the line. To help address presenteeism, you can create a program that helps proactively manage absence and disability in the workplace. Here are a few tips on how to help implement this type of strategy in your organization.

Partner with your disability insurance carrier
A disability carrier with a robust stay-at-work program can help you identify and find ways to support an employee who could benefit from workplace accommodations. Some carriers do this by providing you with access to disability consultants who are skilled in areas such as behavioral health, ergonomics and nurse case management. These consultants can be your eyes and ears to help you determine who may need help and provide insights on what route you can take.

Coordinate help through existing resources
You also can work with the consultant from your disability carrier to see if there are any existing resources in your benefits portfolio that can help boost productivity and keep an employee in the office. This can include leveraging services from your company’s employee assistance, wellness or disease management program – even if they are managed by other benefits carriers.

Consider outside-the-box accommodations
While accommodations may seem like a nice-to-have amenity, there are numerous obligations due to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 that require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with health conditions in the workplace. An employer and disability consultant can work together to find a solution that works for the employee and the organization. Whether it’s rearranging hours or having an hour of rest in the middle of the day, working with a disability consultant can determine the best options for an employee. Ergonomic solutions also serve as a great alternative. They offer an employee specialized equipment (keyboard, chair, monitor) depending on the situation, which can assist the employee and increase his or her productivity.

Creating a disability management program that provides proactive support can help reduce employee health care costs, and help keep employees healthy and productive at work. This way of thinking can truly be a win-win for all.

[1] The cost of presenteeism – and how to fix it, Virgin Pulse Global Challenge, 2016,  https://globalchallenge.virginpulse.com/blog/the-cost-of-presenteeism

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