Presenteeism – The Killer of Productivity in Your Workforce

exhausted-at-the-computerPresenteeism occurs when employees come to work but are unable to focus on their jobs. This distraction is often caused when an elderly loved one needs frequent phone check-ins throughout the day, and requires help from the working caregiver to coordinate doctors’ appointments, follow up with insurers, etc.

Presenteeism takes its toll on everyone involved; it is stressful for the caregiver and family, and often results in poor work productivity. Researchers say that presenteeism cuts individual productivity by one-third or more and appears to be a much costlier problem for employers than its productivity-reducing counterpart, absenteeism.

With the growing number of family caregivers an increasing number of working people are struggling to balance their caregiving responsibilities and work. Nearly 35 percent of the workforce is now caring for a chronically ill or aging family member and this number is expected to increase 50 percent over the next five years. According to the Met Life Caregiver Cost Study, businesses regardless of size or classification face the same relative costs: $2,110-$2,441 per caregiving employee. This translates into an estimated cost of $33 billion annually in workplace errors, absenteeism, tardiness and increased supervisory costs.

Research shows that focused wellness initiatives for employee caregivers can assist in supporting employees at-home responsibilities while increasing their work productivity.  As part of AgingInfoUSA, and through extensive research in caregiving as it relates the employee/employer situation, I have found that employees who took advantage of educational and elder care resources brought into their work environment to help manage their caregiving responsibilities were less likely to report negative caregiving impacts on their work performance than those individuals who did not use support programs at all.

Employers need to understand that at pro-active education as well as access to crisis management can maximize the benefits of these programs for everyone involved, including the care recipient.

Presenteeism Risk Assessment for Employee Caregivers

Here is a quick check list of behaviors that may indicate a need for help:

  • Are you increasingly late for work because caregiving commitments make it difficult for you to get out of the house on time?
  • Are you using company time to call home, make doctor appointments, or talk with insurers?
  • Are you missing deadlines or working overtime trying to fulfill work responsibilities that are taking a backseat to caregiving duties?
  • Are you fearful that your manager may find out the amount of time you have to put in to caring for family members?

AgingInfoUSA partners with employers to implement focused wellness initiatives for employee caregivers. Our goal is to help reduce the stress often felt by working caregivers overwhelmed with family caregiving issues and to help improve their productivity.  For more information and a list of helpful resources, please visit:

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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