Seven in ten UK employees are more likely to go to work unwell than take a day off


Presenteeism is on the rise, according to the latest Aviva Working Lives Report, with two in five (41%) workers saying they are hesitant to take time off, as they believe their work load would pile up if they were to have a sick day.

It comes as no surprise then that the average number of sick days has fallen from 7.2 days annually in 1993 to just 4.3 days in 2016. Although employers may be happy with the decrease in absenteeism, having employees come into work while they are unwell will in turn affect their productivity – and the health of other employees.

Absence management specialist Adrian Lewis of Activ Absence comments:, “It seems that presenteeism and absenteeism are complete opposites, but in my experience, they both arise from poor absence management practices.  Almost as soon as UK employers started to focus on the cost of absence, the knee-jerk response was to assume ‘everyone is an absentee’ and scare sick people back to work – which just swaps absence challenges for productivity challenges.”

The research suggests that there needs to be a shift in management practices as 43% of workers admitted to feeling their employer puts more emphasis on garnering results for their businesses as opposed to the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

Lewis adds, “Tackling absence is not about waving a big stick and chasing ‘lazy’ employees back to work, it is about uncovering the root causes of absence and working with your people in order to tackle them.  


“Using absence management software alongside best HR practices is the only way to do this, it ensures that employers can manage absence effectively with an evidence-led approach to both staff management and wellness initiatives. Hopefully, today’s report will send those managers who simply ‘toughened up’ back to the drawing board.”