Presenteeism – Worse than simply calling in sick?

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Do you go to work, even when you're feeling exhausted or ill, or you're preoccupied with personal issues? This is called "presenteeism" - when you're at work but you're not very productive while you're there.

The Harvard Business Review reported: “Presenteeism isn’t about malingering (pretending to be ill to avoid work duties) or goofing off on the job (surfing the Internet, say, when you should be preparing that report). Underlying the research on presenteeism is the assumption that employees do not take their jobs lightly, that most of them need and want to continue working if they can. The term refers to productivity loss resulting from real health problems…."

Many of the health problems responsible for presenteeism are chronic and relatively benign such as seasonal allergies, asthma, migraines and other kinds of headaches, back pain, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and depression. All these conditions have something in common - they make sleeping difficult and lack of sleep further aggravates the condition. This sick cycle impedes productivity during the day, especially where it often counts the most, in our work.

Workers that don’t sleep well don’t feel good- they have impaired focus and attention, make more errors and need to repeat tasks multiple times before they get them right. During the day, they are at work, but they are not working well. At night, they are in bed, but they are not sleeping well.

The answer to presenteeism appears to lies in:

a) Finding great medical care (to ensure correct diagnosis and treatment).

b) Creating a corporate culture that puts the employee's overall health above the bottom line.

c) Prioritising sleep to ensure workers get their health-promoting seven to nine hours every day.

With many workers unable to afford either good medical cover or a good mattress, should employers start to offer paid rest days and subsidies on well-designed, health-promoting mattresses?

For us at Sealy, good sleep is not a luxury. Our beds promise more than just sound sleep; they promise healthy sleep, thanks to our extensive research and development programs that have put us at the cutting edge of the ‘Science of Sleep’.

Read more related blog posts:
Clean Sleeping: the newest trend or old-school news?
How good sleep can change your life

Written by Roxanne Atkinson

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