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Presenteeism and Quiet Quitting. What’s the connection?

Presenteeism describes being at work but being unproductive due to stress, overwhelm and/or illness.

Harvard Business Review has estimated presenteeism costs the U.S. economy upwards of $150 billion a year

Quiet quitting is the ‘latest’ phrase to describe what many have done for decades – which is doing the bare minimum to get by.

And this too is costing the economy. opb.org in their article discussing quiet quitting write:

Gallup recently did a survey about quiet quitting, counting workers who report being neither engaged nor “actively disengaged” at work. They found that these quiet quitters make up at least half of the U.S. workforce.

 Presenteeism and quiet quitting are similar when you boil them down – someone is at work but doing the bare minimum. And that phrase, doing the bare minimum needs to be qualified for presenteeism:

This could be due to a fatigue-related impairment, or a downward spiral of functionality from mild to more serious levels of depression, hence the performance anxiety associated with presenteeism

Quiet quitting has taken off on social media, especially Tick Tok and there are many discussing what it is:

“We’re acting our wage”

“We have no hope of ever buying our own home – so why work hard for nothing?”

“We are working jobs that do not care about us as people”

 This Tik Tok is a great explanation of the quiet part – on both parts – the employee and employer, and suggests, as we will all know deep down, that it is up to the managers, including HR, to not only understand this trend but address it.

@managermethod #quietquitting #worktok #hrtiktok #pov #worklife #workstress #corporate #hrtok #whattosay ♬ original sound – Manager Method

Once the bean counters start to analyse quiet quitting, it will probably cause similar levels of costs as presenteeism.

Add to the above, there is also disagreement when it comes to working from home – where managers don’t believe their employees are productive:

What’s going on, and what do they both have in common?

 Unmet needs, unrealistic expectations, and the idea that the worker must go above and beyond, be more than, and not have any work-life balance to be, what?

A good cog in the wheel

To not be discarded.

In one instance the worker fears are being weaponised due to illness. No, you can’t take time out to be a human being as you must be a cog, and we will fire you if you do not fulfil the role of a cog.

On the other, they are there because they need the salary, they know they are replaceable and will find something else if needed.

Indifference and fear – two emotions that will harm not only the people experiencing them but also the business they’re employed in.

Living a life of fear and living an unfulfilled life at work.

Unmet needs and unrealistic expectations are the bottom lines here.

Unmet needs in the workplace, well, let’s face it, they are legion.

The office worker, employed from 9-5 (depending upon where you live), yet expected to routinely stay late, answer emails in the evening and to a degree, be on call over the weekend.

It’s as if the employee needs to behave like a business owner.

This is entirely unfair, yet it plays into the busy paradigm, of being a martyr for your work when you know your work will replace you within an unfeeling heartbeat.

So why should you care? Why should you go the extra mile just because Napoleon Hill says you should when it gains you nothing but pain? You miss out on the things that truly bring you joy.

So, business needs to start walking the talk and seeing their employees as just as valuable as the customer.

It needs to look after them.

Bonuses only work to a degree, as noted in peoplevalue.net

Businesses if they want to keep an employee, one that will go the extra mile, then it’s a quid pro quo that’s required.

And that starts with recognition for sure, but also ergonomics, wellbeing, and an environment where it’s conducive to be yourself so you can produce your best work, where you feel valued, seen and cared for.

This means investing in diversity, equality, and inclusion. Investing in accessibility, and wellbeing, and yes we are going to mention DSE regulations ( linked to our essential guide)  because there you have it business owners, a handbook that shows you the way.

Display screen regulations, all the way up to and including ISO 30071.1 give you the foundation for looking after your people that spend their days in an office and/or in front of a screen all day.

And it’s so simple.

It’s all about reasonable adjustment for the individual, the same way as when you get in a car and check the seat and mirrors are set in a way that’s perfect for you.

Display Screen Optimisation is a perfect example of this.  By ensuring safety and wellbeing when working with a display screen, making the reasonable adjustments as laid out in the regulations, including individualising the adjustments, so helping their performance and productivity.

To explain in more depth how our  Display Screen Optimiser (DSO)  aids wellbeing, we suggest you understand colour therapy that underpins the science behind the DSO tech and then dive further into how the Display Screen Optimiser software works.

The Display Screen Equipment regulations ask you to look at your employee as human, not a cog, so they stay your people, they want to stay your people, they give their best work and presenteeism and quiet quitting are totally absent and alien to them.

And our DSO can help you do just that.

Presenteeism and quiet quitting, are different, but the same.

What are you going to do about it?

Presenteeism; is the pc its silent ally?



In 2010  the presenteeism rate was at 26%. By 2018 it had rocketed up to 86%.

And for an issue that costs the UK economy at least £15.1 billion a year, only 25% of companies are doing anything proactive to reduce it.

It costs companies about £4000.00 per employee, per annum in wages alone.

It’s a big problem.

And not as simple as someone coming in sick, barely working and then infecting the rest of the team.

Presenteeism: Understood by many as people showing up to work when they are sick, but it also applies to work stress and carry on regardless, resulting in fatigue and risk of burnout.

It’s being present in the room but not doing the work to the standard required.  Also, not being optimally fit for work,  due to deficits in your wellbeing and health – mental or physical.

It leads to poor performance, increased error rates, poor decision making, reduces safety and can and does affect others.

Presenteeism is a severe drag on productivity and overall contribution.  It is related to poor health literacy, both by the employee and omissions by the employer to ensure some of the very basics to ensure optimal working conditions.


Most employees will spend an average of 2.5 weeks at work when they should be home, recuperating.

We can be optimistic that post-COVID, this will change, and we’ll have an instinctual aversion to someone coughing and sneezing in the office, but ingrained work and cultural habits are not always easy or fast to change.

We have a current paradigm where employees feel they always need to be available.

In the US, if TV shows like Suits are anything to go by, workers are expected to be in the office upwards of 12 hours a day.

This is crazy when research shows that 3-4 hours a day of sustained, deep work is as much as most of us can cope with if we are to be productive.

With smartphones and laptops, even if we are not physically in the office, we are there in virtual reality.

We don’t switch off.

Advances in technology are generally seen to have more of a positive than negative impact on employee well-being. However, almost nine in ten respondents call out employees’ inability to switch off out of work hours as the most common negative effect of technology on well-being.”


Perhaps we are all suffering from presenteeism at some point during the day or week?

But ignoring presenteeism won’t make it go away, and it’s not as simple as sending someone home.

There are four types and two measurements of presenteeism, according to The Leader’s Council

Functional: Where the employee is unwell, but the illness doesn’t impact their basic levels of work.

Dysfunctional: No positive impact on the employee or productivity, and can impair the future of both.

Therapeutic: Assists the mental health of the employee, but not the performance or long term recovery.

Overachieving: Great performance by the employee, but at considerable cost to their health.

The above can be measured by:

Absolute presenteeism,  where performance is related to possible performance.

Relative presenteeism is where performance is related to other workers in the same role.


So, to that silent, unassuming ally.

It’s your digital display screen.

The following may resonate:

There you are, it’s 1 pm, you’ve had back to back zoom calls, and you noticed on the last one that your eyes were burning, Doris from accounts began to look a bit blurred, and then frighteningly, there were two of her, and you left the meeting feeling exhausted.

You lean back on your chair, rub your eyes and neck, and noticed a mild headache.

This isn’t the first time you’ve felt this way. You’re noticing the longer you spend working on your screen, the more tired you feel, your eyes feel drier, and the feelings of exhaustion are creeping in earlier in the day.

You also know that the rest of the day is shot because your eyesight will prevent you from doing any serious work on your pc, as will the headache, and all you want to do is get out of the office, but you can’t, because it’s only 1 pm.


It’s not just sickness that causes presenteeism; it’s also your work environment and your screen as they contribute to fatigue.

We have a raft of research and legislation that tells us exactly this.

Your screen should come with a safety warning.


Working on a  digital display screen for too long induces the symptoms of screen fatigue, which cause fatigue of your visual system and musculoskeletal system, which means you are unable to work to the level required.

Presenteeism in a nutshell.


Covid has taught us many things: working from home is possible, and many thrive by doing it.

It’s also shown us that presenteeism levels are a problem, whether WFH or not.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on employers and individuals. Employers should take a strategic and preventative approach to well-being to tackle work-related stress and unhealthy behaviour like presenteeism and leaveism, and this must be role modelled by those in senior positions.”

Presenteeism is a multifaceted issue, but one thing you can do, and very quickly, is reduce your screen fatigue, take that out of the equation, and then hone in on other factors.

The DSO is designed to mitigate screen fatigue, and it’s straightforward to use. It could improve your productivity by up to 20%,  preventing those afternoons from being shot to hell because your eyes can’t focus and you feel physically exhausted.








The Hourglass

Silly me, of course, it has to be this way around when peddling austerity as, for sure, they will want to make money out of running a nudge campaign when few employers are going to actively volunteer for a fundamental change of mind-set or ethos in their management or governance.

…Go to original article

Still as relevant as ever?

Silly me, of course, it has to be this way around when peddling austerity as, for sure, they will want to make money out of running a nudge campaign when few employers are going to actively volunteer for a fundamental change of mind-set or ethos in their management or governance.

…Go to original article

Maintaining the status quo regardless of accepting the under the line costs of poor performance, productivity, presenteeism and Occupational Health preferable to “change”. The old “hair-shirt” principle of ‘it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable it’s familiar’ and same old, same ole mediocrity.

I knew the Hour-Glass Economy was going to see a downward spiral in everyone’s quality of life though deskilling the masses but, didn’t imagine the route to change would take this path although, hitting them in their pockets maybe the only way shift entrenched management what what ?