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Presenteeism Quantified

By Clive Riddle

CIGNA last week released Yankelovich survey results quantifying various aspects of "presenteeism", which they define as "the phenomenon of employees being physically present at work, but not performing their duties at full capacity due to illness and various distractions."

Jodi Prohofsky, CIGNA Health Solutions Unit SVP of Operations tells us "The survey demonstrates very clearly what every employee knows – that life impacts work and work impacts life. The challenge for employers is to find ways to reduce that impact by offering workplace programs focused on employee health and well-being, and then encourage their employees to use these programs. It’s important for employers to create a culture of wellness in the workplace so that every employee has the opportunity to achieve his or her full health and productivity.”

Here's selected results from their study:

  • On average, people admitted to spending between 2 ½ and five hours per week resolving personal issues while at work, spiking during particularly stressful or eventful weeks.
  • 61% of employees reported for duty while they were sick or coping with family and personal matters, with an average number of  6.9 "presenteeism" days per employee for the past six months, compared to 3.0 actual absence days per employee for the past six months.
  • Employees average 2.4 hours per week dealing with personal issues in a typical week, and 4.7 hours during a stressful week
  • 62% of employees admitted to being  less productive on those days they were sick or had to deal with personal issues, 
  • 38% of employees reported to work sick or with a significant person issue out of a sense of duty, and 25 % reported because they needed the income. 
  • 66% of employees admitted they don’t get enough sleep, and 45% said that their lack of sleep hurt their work performance. 
  • Of those saying that a lack of sleep affected them at work, 50% were less productive, 43% were irritable, 42 % were unable to focus, 40% delayed projects,  28%  admitted to making errors, and 12% fell asleep on the job (multiple answers allowed.)
  • Employee strategies to stay alert bode well for Starbucks. the top strategy was to drink caffeinated beverages (57%). 20% said they take a nap to stay refreshed.

The lines continue to blur between human resource issues and benefits issues, and employers, health plans, providers, and solutions companies are all building on a trend to address workplace issue like presenteeism through delivery and management of health care benefit. Expect to see health plans, wellness companies, care management companies, pharmaceutical programs, and various vendors to continue to step up involvement is this area.

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