Decrease Presenteeism at Work with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Up until recently businesses worried about absenteeism – employees calling in sick when they’re not, just to get out of work for the day. Following a push from employers to reduce the level of absenteeism, the pendulum has swung the other way and we’re now more likely than ever to attend work when we’re really not up to the job – this is known as presenteeism. A study in the USA found employees take an average of four days off sick each year. It was also found that these same employees were still in work but underperforming due to their health for as many as 57.5 days a year.” – AXA
Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.
One of the consequences of this stress is presenteeism. This involves coming to work even when sick or injured. It results in decreased productivity, increased errors, and potentially spreading illnesses to coworkers. It has been estimated that presenteeism costs employers $250 billion dollars each year. To address these problems, businesses have incorporated meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. These programs attempt to increase the employees’ mindfulness at work and thereby reduce stress and burnout. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce presenteeism.
In today’s Research News article “Are mindfulness and self-efficacy related to presenteeism among primary medical staff: A cross-sectional study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6608653/), Tang and colleagues recruited primary medical personnel with at least one year of experience. They were measured for presenteeism, mindfulness, and self-efficacy.
They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of self-efficacy and the lower the levels of presenteeism and the higher the levels of self-efficacy the lower the levels of presenteeism. Performing a mediation analysis, they found that the negative relationship between mindfulness and presenteeism was completely mediated by self-efficacy. In other words, mindfulness did not have a direct relationship with presenteeism but rather mindfulness was associated with higher self-efficacy which was then associated with lower presenteeism.
Self-efficacy is the confidence that the individual can exert control over one’s behavior and environment. It is well documented that mindfulness increases self-efficacy. Hence, the results suggest that mindfulness increases this confidence allowing the individual to better deal with the stresses of the environment and act adaptively. Staying home when one is sick is adaptive, improving recovery and preventing spread of disease. People with high self-efficacy appear to be better able to respond in this manner and resist the temptation to respond to pressures and go to work when ill.
The study was correlational and restricted to medical personnel in China. It remains for future research to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training to reduce presenteeism in more varied populations of individuals.
So, decrease presenteeism at work with mindfulness.
“Greater self-care may alternatively be regarded in light of a more effective use of personal resources which may eventually prevent presenteeism, which is more prevalent in higher-paid staff. – Silke Rupprecht
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Tang, N., Han, L., Yang, P., Zhao, Y., & Zhang, H. (2019). Are mindfulness and self-efficacy related to presenteeism among primary medical staff: A cross-sectional study. International journal of nursing sciences, 6(2), 182–186. doi:10.1016/j.ijnss.2019.03.004
In ensuring public welfare with primary medical and health services, the primary medical staff faces new tasks. Increasing workload, and therefore degrees of stress and burnout, can influence job satisfaction and lead to presenteeism, which is defined as the appearance to be on the job but not actually working. The purpose of this study is to investigate the current working situation and the relationship between presenteeism and mindfulness of primary medical staff and determine the mediating effect of self-efficacy on this relationship.
A cross-sectional survey was performed with 580 primary medical staff from 9 hospitals in Shaanxi province, northwest China. Presenteeism, mindfulness, and self-efficacy were measured by using a general information questionnaire, the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, the General Self-Efficacy Scale, and the Stanford Presenteeism Scale. Mediating effect was analyzed by a series of hierarchical multiple regressions.
A high level of presenteeism was found among 47.4% of the study participants. Presenteeism was negatively correlated with mindfulness (r = −0.409, P < 0.001) and self-efficacy (r = −0.678, P < 0.001). A positive correlation was found between mindfulness and self-efficacy (r = 0.584, P < 0.001). When controlling for self-efficacy (β = −0.018, P > 0.05), the association was insignificant between presenteeism and mindfulness.
The results identified the effect of mindfulness on presenteeism of primary medical staff is realized through self-efficacy,which also suggested to enhance self-efficacy on center location when developing management strategies for mental health education or training among primary medical staff.