This article is one of a number of articles that show that “Presenteeism” is not just a U.S. phenomenon. A 2008 study shows that better than eight out of ten Canadians have gone to work too ill, exhausted or stressed out to perform productively. The author blames the economy, in-house job losses and the resulting increased workload on those remaining for stressing workers to the point of despair. Increased competition and workloads leave them too stressed to sleep, so they go into work early and work late to make deadlines, leaving them with more stress and even less sleep. This cycle, if uninterrupted, results in a resentful employee who is less and less productive and more prone to illness and disabilities.

The author advises organizations to use employee surveys or audits of short- and long-term disability claims to get a clear picture of how employees are contending with job stress. Once managers understand what the stressors are and where the specific issues lie they can start targeting their initiatives and bringing resources like employee assistance programs to bear. Good mental health in the workplace needs to be a daily focus. Managers are cautioned, however, that if work-life balance and good mental health are not integral parts of the company culture, even the best programs are likely to fail. Managers need to “be more flexible and cultivate an environment where it is acceptable for people to stay home when they aren’t well or to work from home when possible.” With billions being lost to Presenteeism, companies must proactively move to address this threat with a targeted mix of communication, mentoring and health care support.

Source: Shannon Klie, Canadian HR Reporter (Toronto); June 2, 2008

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