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'Presenteeism' contributing to UK productivity puzzle

Jonny Clark

3rd May 2018

Students who are analysing causes of the UK productivity puzzle may like to consider the statistics relating to 'presenteeism' as a possible cause.

'Presenteeism' is defined by ACAS as 'turning up to work when unwell'.  In a broader sense it can be defined as any person who turns up to work but performs at a standard lower than expected due to health reasons.  Health reasons can include general illnesses (such as colds and bugs) and stress-related illnesses.  

For many years, the UK grappled with a relatively high 'absenteeism' rate, impacting on productivity and international competitiveness.  This has now reduced to a level of, on average, 4.3 days per year (2016) per worker compared to 7.2 days in 1993.

The CIPD have released a report entitled 'Health and Well-being at Work' which indicates that '86% of over 1,000 respondents to the 2018 survey said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010.'  Alongside this, the CIPD report that only 26% of organisations are implementing strategies to combat the issue.

Causes of the increase are not completely clear but will probably include increased pressure from management, uncertainty over jobs (consider those working in the retail sector at the moment) and a need to ensure regular pay to meet general bills and pay off increasing debt.

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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