POSTED: July 10 2018
Leavism and Presenteeism. What are they and how do they affect business?

Leavism and Presenteeism. What are they and how do they affect business?

New research from the CIPD show 69% of employees have said ‘leavism’ has occurred in their workplace in the past year. The CIPD also released figures on “Presenteeism’, that shows it has more than tripled since 2010. advo hr explores these two workplace issues further.


 What is Leavism and the effects on employees?

It is defined as working during non-paid hours or annual leave. Examples of what this may look like are:

  • Checking your emails constantly
  • Too scared to book holiday
  • Cancelling annual leave last minute
  • Taking unfinished work away with you
  • Not trusting a colleague to cover your work when on leave.

These situation results in lack of work-life balance, stress and anxiety.

What can the employer do to minimise Leavism?

  • Positively encourage all staff to book their leave; remind them of how much allocation is outstanding.
  • Ensure you’re not rewarding people for not taking leave/working while away!
  • Encourage staff to set clear out of office notifications and only forward emails to in-house staff covering the person’s holiday. Expressly tell staff not to check their emails if they have off-site access!
  • Make sure someone is on hand to communicate with any clients while the person is away.
  • Save all email/phone updates for the employee’s return; notify your colleagues to do the same.

What is presenteeism and the effects on employees?

  • Definition of presenteeism “Going to work despite feeling unhealthy or experiencing other events that might normally compel absence (e.g. childcare problems).” Evans (2004)
  • Presenteeism can mean reduced productivity when employees come to work and are not fully engaged or perform at lower levels as a result of ill health but feel they must be at work.
  • Presenteeism is associated with increases in reported common mental health conditions as well as stress-related absence, which are among the top causes of long-term sickness absence.

What can the employer do to minimise presenteeism?

  • Be conscious of presenteeism – Employers should ensure that managers and employees understand the relationship between absenteeism and presenteeism. Managers should be encouraged to adopt a more flexible approach to sickness absence in order to avoid causing further presenteeism.
  • Build better relationships- raising awareness and training  should be provided for both managers and employees, so that they can have a better understanding of health in the workplace, including actions they can take themselves. This will also help to reduce the stigmatising of health conditions like depression, and will facilitate a more open approach to disclosing health conditions.
  • Identify mental health issues early on – Managers should be trained to identify the early warning signs of common mental health problems in the workplace, to help them to intervene as early as possible and to speak supportively with employees who are experiencing difficulties.
  • Promote health and wellbeing in the workplace – a healthy office is a productive office.