19 April 2024 –  In a poll conducted by HR, payroll, and finance specialists MHR, 71% of employees have admitted that they have worked while unwell because of the negative perception of calling in sick. The main concern is it will damage career progression, reported by nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents.

The findings spotlight a harmful culture of presenteeism across UK organisations, which senior leaders must address – not only for the wellbeing of their employees, but the wellbeing of the business as a whole. Employees that work while unwell are less productive and more prone to making costly errors, which can hurt a company’s bottom line.

While only 20% of employees admitted to having ‘pulled a sickie’ in the last 12 months, the reasons they cited for doing so are concerning. Of those who did admit to this, nearly a quarter (22%) said it was because their company culture made them feel demotivated, meanwhile almost half (46%) put it down to overwhelming workloads.

Technology is an invaluable tool for helping employees to manage workload, especially HR professionals. Digital tools can be embedded to automate routine work processes, helping free up time for more complex, people-oriented issues – such as conflict resolution, engagement, and talent development – that play a huge role in improving employee wellbeing and creating a better company culture.

Jeanette Wheeler, Chief HR Officer at MHR, said: “The findings of our research are alarming and point towards a worrying culture of presenteeism in the workplace. It almost goes without saying that employees should be encouraged to take days off when they are sick – either this is not happening, or the message is not being communicated properly and employees don’t believe it when they are told this. HR teams need to commit themselves to promoting a healthy work-life balance and fostering a positive work culture where employees feel valued and empowered to prioritise their own wellbeing.”

About MHR

MHR supports organisations wanting to strengthen their business resilience and increase their operational efficiency by simplifying their HR, payroll and finance processes and powering their valuable talent with the easiest to integrate, adopt and use, secure cloud-based systems available. We manage 2000+ payrolls and make £9billion of payments annually.

To learn more, please visit https://mhrglobal.com/uk/en