Presenteeism & Workforce Surveys

Experts warn to survey staff before it’s too late

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As annual average employee absence falls by almost a day, levels of workplace stress and mental health problems are on the rise.

Employee survey analytics reveal the figure dropped from 7.7 to 6.8 days in a year, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD/SimplyHealth).

Dr Jill Miller, CIPD's Research Adviser, says: "On the face of it, the findings from this year's survey present some positive news, but we must air caution before celebrating lower absence levels because they may be masking deeper problems in the workplace."

The issue is that staff survey analytics show a continued increase in 'presenteeism' - where ill or stressed-out employees are working undiagnosed - which can have a damaging effect on organisations' productivity. Not only can illnesses be passed on to other colleagues but, as can be uncovered in an employee performance survey, unwell staff are likely to work less effectively than usual. That means they may be more prone to making costly mistakes and take longer to recover from ailments.

Dr Miller says: "We urge employers to examine whether lower absence levels within their own organisations are as a result of more effective absence management or if they reflect the negative impact of presenteeism."

Employers could carry out a staff performance survey, such as Stredia's bespoke online employee satisfaction survey, to help discover what is going on, to streamline management procedures and to ultimately support members of staff who need care.

Managers have been warned such employee surveys clearly show stressed-out staff could end up taking lengthy absence periods if their condition isn't diagnosed. There are many follow-up strategies to an effective employee survey questionnaire which can help manage staff welfare.

Employee survey analytics have led some staff to Dublin's Fitzwilliam Health Clinic where experts confirm a rise in patients interested in stress reduction and wellbeing, many motivated by the results of staff surveys.

Massage and physical therapy techniques can be enough to address sleeping problems, fatigue, anxiety and physical and muscular symptoms associated with stress in the workplace, the clinic's experts say.

CIPD researchers said employers should note presenteeism, most accurately revealed through an employee motivation survey and via employee survey analytics, may spell trouble ahead.

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Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) PR Newswire 20/12/12.