Ever been at work in a funk?

Maybe you’re not feeling that well. You’re dealing with a family crisis at home. Or maybe there’s something about your work, your boss, your co-workers, or your customers that makes every day drudgery.

You go to work anyway. But you’re easily distracted and feel frustrated. Maybe you even feel sick, but you don’t want to miss work.

Sound familiar? Or maybe you know someone like this.

It’s Called Presenteeism
“Presenteeism is a process,” according to the Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research.1 “It starts with the decision to go to work under unsuitable biopsychosocial conditions, which in turn impacts the Tired Employee employee’s performance and the productivity of the organization.”

It might seem like a good idea to tough it out, and go to work anyway. But presenteeism actually takes a bigger toll on your health and costs employers more than $150 billion per year.2

So what does presenteeism look like and what can you do about it?

8 Signs of Presenteeism at Work
Presenteeism isn’t always easy to spot. It’s not as obvious as a high blood pressure reading or lab tests that show high blood glucose levels and diabetes risk.

It’s more subtle. And without any kind of intervention, presenteeism usually increases over time.

The most common signs of presenteeism include:

    1. Making more mistakes at work than usual
    2. Poor work performance
    3. Reduced productivity
    4. Apathy related to results and quality of work
    5. Frequently late or leaving early
    6. Skipping meals and breaks, and working long hours
    7. Working even with an illness or health condition that interferes with work
    8. Fatigue, tiredness, and exhaustion

You might think you’re taking one for the team by going to work when you’re not well, but it’s just not true. Presenteeism has an impact on your performance and quality of work. And it can also put your co-workers’ and your customers’ health at risk.3

6 Strategies to Reduce Presenteeism at Work

So you wake up one day for work and think, “I can’t do this anymore.” If you’ve been experiencing signs of presenteeism, you’re bound to reach a tipping point eventually.

When you recognize going to work every day is a struggle, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening and take action. Your health depends on it, and maybe your job does too.

What can you do to reduce presenteeism at work?4

Every situation is a little different. But there are some proven ways to reduce presenteeism you can take action on. Here are some things you can do:

1. Participate in your company’s wellness program
Log into your FitLyfe 360 account, and start using the resources to track your steps, eat healthier, improve your sleep, and reduce stress. You’ll feel better. You’ll earn rewards. And you’ll be more motivated to make healthy choices that will help you at work and at home.

2. Talk it out
Talk to your boss or manager about how you’re feeling and what’s happening. If that’s a challenge, talk to your human resources director. Talking to a trained professional about health challenges and stress that may be impacting your work performance can help identify problems and provide solutions.

3. Seek medical care
If it’s been more than a few days, and you’re still not feeling well, seek medical care. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or a specialist. Take steps to find out why you’re not feeling well, so you can get better.

4. Get help from your EAP
If your organization has an Employee Assistance Program, it may provide programs, services, and even financial aid to help you.

5. Use sick leave
If you’re not feeling well, take a sick day. A rest and recovery day, or even a few days off, can give your body time to heal. Staying home from work when you’re sick may also prevent infecting others. Remember, if you’re going to work sick, you’re not as productive.

Ask about remote work for flexible schedules

If your commute or your work environment is contributing to presenteeism, ask about working remotely or creating a flexible schedule. Adjusting your hours or working from home may help you feel better and improve your work performance.

Going to work sick isn’t a badge of honor. It puts your health at risk and takes a toll on productivity. Experiencing presenteeism? Now is always the best time to make a change.


  1. Vera-Calzaretta, A., et al. (2014). Presenteeism. Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht. From: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_2254
  1. Smith, S. (2016). Presenteeism costs businesses 10 times more than absenteeism. EHS Today. From: https://tinyurl.com/y253p346
  1. Widera, E., et al. (2010). Presenteeism: A public health hazard. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(11): 1244-1247. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947637/4. Miller, B. (2017). How to reduce presenteeism. HR Daily Advisor. From: https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/05/29/how-to-reduce-presenteeism/

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