‘Presenteeism’ infects white-collar workplace

More than half of the UK’s white-collar employees – equivalent to 8.7 million people – work in a culture where coming in early, staying late and battling on when ill is expected, according to research.

A survey of 750 UK staff, by healthcare provider PruHealth, reveals that 44% believe that the long-hours culture and ‘presenteeism’ is becoming a more common feature of working life in the UK.

Younger professionals climbing the corporate ladder feel the most pressure to work outside normal hours, with 60% of 25- to 34-year-olds claiming presenteeism is affecting their work-life balance.

One in seven workers also claim that their employer has made it explicit that they are expected to work long hours and to report for work when ill.

Almost a third (31%) employee think a culture of long hours in the workplace adds to their levels of stress and 25% said it had a negative impact on their health and well-being.

Shaun Matisonn, chief executive of PruHealth, said: “There is no doubt that Britain’s hard-working culture is one of the engines of its economic success. The eternal challenge for business is how to strike a balance between hard work and over-work.

“Presenteeism is becoming endemic. To be honest, we’re not immune from it here at PruHealth. It’s something we recognise and we’re working on strategies to ensure our people achieve a sustainable balance in their work and private lives.”

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