3 Ways to Stop Presenteeism Hurting Your Business

What is Presenteeism?

Sometimes called ‘sickness presence’, it’s when one of your employees shows up to work ill and is unproductive.

Often, the result is that you and your team have to help out while keeping on top of your own work, which isn’t easy. And if that sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone.

A 2016 report by CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, stated that “a third of organisations reported an increase in people coming to work while ill.”

So if presenteeism is a rising problem, what can you do about it at your business?


  1. Change how you view staff sickness

There are some employers who see an employee who comes in ill as dedicated and a good example to everyone. You might even be one of them.

But this places your staff under great pressure to attend when they’re unwell, reducing morale and impacting both mental and physical wellbeing.

Consider making a clear point in your company policy that if anyone is sick, they should stay at home to recover.


  1. Find out if stress is the problem

Do your employees have an unmanageable workload? Are they worried about unreasonable deadlines? Do you even know whether they’re struggling?

Many employers—through no fault of their own—are often oblivious to how well their staff are coping with work pressures. Your employees may feel uncomfortable opening up to you, meaning that stress builds and causes their poor work output.

You or your team have the tools to recognise when one of your employee’s productivity has dropped. Try to be proactive in seeing how your people are managing workloads to maintain a positive environment.


  1. Take positive action

Run training sessions or workshops on presenteeism with senior staff. It will help make it easier to spot a drop in employee performance and identify its root cause.

Promote healthy eating and regular exercise and don’t forget to take potential societal pressures into account, such as financial troubles.

Overall, when you take presenteeism seriously and train your people on how to deal with it, you help increase productivity and workplace wellbeing.


If you have any queries on how you can identify and manage presenteeism in your business, speak to our experts now by calling 01 886 0350

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Nora Cashe


Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

Rhiannon Coyne

Graphite HRM

Rhiannon Coyne is a Senior HR Consultant at Graphite HRM and will be providing an overview of best practice on how to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

With a number of recent updates to employment laws, Rhiannon will take a closer look at employment equality and how it is interlinked to Health & Safety and what employers can learn from recent case laws.

David Begg

Workplace Relations Commission

David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

David is also a professor at Maynooth University Institute of Social Sciences. Mr Begg’s extensive history in the trade union movement included leading the ESB Officers Association and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, stepping away from the latter in 2001 to chair international aid agency Concern.

David Begg was also previously a director of the Central Bank of Ireland between 1995 and 2010.