PRESENT BUT NOT PRODUCTIVE – THE RISE OF PRESENTEEISM IN THE WORKPLACE

05th December 2019

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Have you ever gone to work when you shouldn’t have? When you were unwell, injured or struggling with poor mental health? Increasingly employees are now too afraid to call in sick over fears that their absence will be viewed as a sign of weakness, or a lack of commitment to their role. Known as ‘Presenteeism’, this unhealthy trend is on the rise and can see productivity and performance levels in the workplace plummet.

Work is one of the biggest causes for mental health issues. Therefore, it’s only right that action is taken to help tackle this and remove the stigma of mental health. From an FM perspective, there are a number of ways we can help clients to create environments that inspire creativity, make people feel comfortable, and promote the notion of being able to flourish in a safe environment, all of which can help to build resilience, increase focus, productivity and efficiency. 

When linked to the Well Building Standard, which is a great benchmark in promoting a healthy working environment, we can aim to reduce the impact and rise of presenteeism.

How we can support wellbeing in the workplace

Air Quality: It is important to monitor air temperatures, filtration systems and to consider the quality of air in the workplace. There are now multiple choices including the use of natural sources for air and ventilation and a move towards chemical-free cleaning. The quality of the air we breathe can remove the lethargic feel within the office. Likewise, FMs must also consider where to place centralised bins to combat the issue of odour affecting workers.

Water Sources: Staying hydrated is great for physical, emotional and mental health. Are you providing adequate filtered drinking water for staff and visitors and are they easily accessible and well maintained?

Lighting: Lighting can directly affect mood and energy levels. FMs need to monitor the Flux levels on site, and have the right balance of artificial and natural light to create inviting and productive working environments. In workspaces without natural light, it is beneficial to encourage staff to move around and be agile to ensure a positive sense of wellbeing. 

Noise Levels: Noise in the workplace can act as a de-motivator. FMs need to ensure there are procedures in place to monitor motorised items, to ensure that they are running efficiently. Consider office layout and where staff are placed. Being situated next to a constantly open door, a busy walkway or in earshot of the hand-dryers in the washrooms, is bound to cause disruption, irritation and distraction.

Fitness: We have all heard the phrase ‘healthy body healthy mind’. Budgets dependent, Facilities may be able to provide exercise facilities. However, if this is not possible, then the FM teams can work with other functions in the organisation to create campaigns to encourage employees to be active and eat healthier. 

Comfort: The rise in agile workspaces creates and encourages the opportunity for staff to work in different areas. This provides the opportunity for the FM function to design the workspace with collaborative areas, enabling open thought and creation of ideas. Often, a modern and agile workspace will provide comfortable seating options which are ideal for encouraging relaxation during the working day, helping to put workers at ease.

Mind: Imagine dreading coming to your workplace every day especially when faced with dingy decor, dreadful lighting, broken lifts, empty water coolers, toilets out of order and not so much as a smile from Reception. Would you feel productive? Would you be productive? The FM function absolutely has the responsibility to create an environment in which people can thrive. The most engaged workers are those who have autonomy over where they work to suit their needs as it leads to more satisfaction.

Being aware of the environment and the culture of a workplace will enable processes to be put in place that will positively affect the individuals working within it and will help to reduce this lingering and increasing epidemic of presenteeism in the workplace.


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