Presenteeism; a growing workplace concern Employee Assistance Programs provide practical assistance

WARWICK, RI – (October 30, 2012) People who come to work when sick are likely to infect others; namely, coworkers and possibly customers or clients. This is one contributor to a workplace issue known as “presenteeism,” defined as being at work but not working productively or effectively.

In occupations such as nursing, and industries such as food service, an infected employee who comes to work ill can be devastating — compromising food safety, and infecting the public.

According to recent statistics, the total cost of presenteeism to US employers has been increasing, and estimates for current losses range from about $150 to $250 billion annually. Costs for presenteeism are about 60 percent of the total cost of worker illness.

“Presenteeism, in terms of not working productively on the job, can of course be caused by inescapable life challenges,” said Judith Hoffman, LICSW, CEAP, Executive Director, Coastline EAP, an organization that provides confidential support to employees with personal and family concerns and assists employers with managing job performance, behavior problems, and critical incidents in the workplace.

“Employees may be less productive due to worry about an ill family member, grief, childcare and eldercare challenges, and/or behavioral health concerns such as anxiety, depression, addictive disorders, domestic violence, relationship and parenting concerns, or legal and financial worries.”

Coastline EAP assists both the observing supervisor and the employee with support, a realistic assessment and an individualized plan to address what is contributing to the employee’s distraction and discomfort.

“Presenteeism describes what happens to all of us at some point or another in our working lives – it is important to remind our supervisors and employees that support and practical assistance is available,” said Hoffman.

Coastline EAP has provided employee assistance services in over 45 states since 1984. Over 180 companies in the healthcare, manufacturing, finance, retail and transportation sectors, school departments, municipalities, and professional associations use Coastline EAP’s comprehensive clinical and consultation services.

For more information, contact Eileen Rafferty, Director, Account Services,, 800-445-1195/401-732-9444.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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