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Why Come Into Work Ill? Individual and Organisational Factors Underlying Presenteeism

Collins, Alison and Cartwright, S (2012) Why Come Into Work Ill? Individual and Organisational Factors Underlying Presenteeism. Employee Relations, 34 (4). pp. 429-442. ISSN 0142-5455

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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions of managers and employees, in one private and one public sector organization, towards an individual's decision to go to work, despite being unwell, a phenomenon known as presenteeism in the literature. Design/methodology/approach Qualitative interviews (n=33) were used to investigate the personal beliefs and attitudes of managers and employees towards presenteeism in an attempt to understand why individuals come into work, despite being unwell, rather than taking time off work. Findings This paper explores the factors that influence an individual's decision to come into work despite being ill. Employees who are unwell are likely to take into consideration a combination of factors before deciding whether to come into work or take sick leave. The study's findings highlight the importance of both the work environment and an individual's personal motivation, including their work ethic, on presenteeism, providing further evidence that context is important. Originality/value The study's findings support previous research that attendance management mechanisms implemented by the organization can lead to absenteeism. However, well‐designed and managed return to work policies can be of reciprocal benefit to both the organization and the employee.

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