Presenteeism and Absenteeism: Learn the Differences!

Have you ever noticed that most employers focus heavily on absenteeism? They’ll scrutinize when and why employees miss work and take measures to prevent it. But what about presenteeism? That is when an employee is present at work but not fully engaged or productive. This blog post will discuss the concept of presenteeism and absenteeism and how they both affect productivity.

What is Presenteeism?

Presenteeism is when an employee comes to work but is not productive because they are not feeling well. Presenteeism costs businesses more money than absenteeism because the employee is taking up a spot that could be filled by someone who is productive. It also decreases morale among other employees.

Presenteeism can also occur when an employee is working not to the best of their ability because of personal or outside stressors. This could manifest itself in decreased productivity, increased errors, and lower quality work.

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What is Absenteeism?

When an employee is regularly absent from work, it’s called absenteeism. Absenteeism can be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary absenteeism is when an employee is absent because they don’t want to come to work. This could be for personal reasons, such as taking care of a sick family member or the employee’s unhappiness with their job. Involuntary absenteeism is when an employee is absent because they can’t come to work. This could be due to illness or injury.

While absenteeism can negatively affect a business, such as decreased productivity and increased costs, it’s important to remember that employees are human beings with lives outside of work. There will always be times when an employee has to miss work, whether it’s voluntary or involuntary. The key is to manage absenteeism to minimize its impact on your business.

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How Do They Differ?

The main difference between presenteeism and absenteeism is that presenteeism is when an employee is physically at work but not productive, while absenteeism is when an employee is not at work. There are many causes of both presenteeism and absenteeism, but the most common cause of presenteeism is stress. Stress can lead to employees feeling unmotivated, anxious, and depressed, which can all interfere with productivity.

The most common cause of absenteeism is an illness, but other causes include personal issues, such as childcare or transportation problems.

The Effects of Presenteeism and Absenteeism in the Workplace

The effects of presenteeism and absenteeism in the workplace can be far-reaching and expensive. Presenteeism, or employees coming to work sick, can spread illness in the workplace. Absenteeism, or employees missing work due to illness, can lead to lost productivity and increased costs for employers.

Presenteeism and absenteeism can have a significant impact on both individual employees and businesses as a whole. They can lead to decreased productivity, higher healthcare costs, and a negative effect on morale.

Employees who are frequently absent or come to work sick may find themselves at risk for termination. Businesses may also institute policies that penalize employees for excessive absenteeism or presenteeism.

If you are an employer, you must be aware of the potential effects of presenteeism and absenteeism in your workplace. You should have policies in place to discourage these behaviors and encourage a healthy workforce. If you are an employee, be mindful of your health and the impact your absences could have on your job.

How to Manage Presenteeism and Absenteeism

If your organization is struggling with productivity, it may be time to take a closer look at your attendance policy. Absenteeism and presenteeism can have a significant impact on productivity and morale. Here are some tips for managing these issues:

1. Establish clear expectations for attendance. Employees should know what is expected of them to be present and punctual.

2. Keep track of absences and tardiness. This will help you identify patterns and problem areas.

3. Address problems promptly. If an employee is consistently absent or late, speak with them about the issue and try to find a solution.

4. Offer incentives for good attendance. Recognizing employees who try to be present and punctual can motivate others to do the same.

5. Be flexible when possible. There will be times when employees need to miss work due to personal reasons or emergencies. If possible, offer flexibility in these situations.


All in all, presenteeism and absenteeism can significantly impact an organization. As such, businesses need to be mindful of the effects of both forms of workplace behavior on their business operations and staff morale. Additionally, by understanding the factors that contribute to presenteeism and absenteeism, organizations may be able to develop strategies to help reduce costs associated with these behaviors.

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