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Tarnya Brink on... Tick tock, tick tock – it’s what o’clock?

Tarnya Brink - Sagegreen HR

How many hours do you spend at work? How many of those hours are productive?

So why are you spending so much time there?

The term Presenteeism is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘the practice of being present at one's place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one's job’.

The term can also be used with reference to people attending work whilst ill, and not using their annual holidays, either for fear of a negative consequence, or because they think it’s the way to be recognised as being a committed and loyal employee.

How often have you noticed people being given ‘that look’ when they leave work on time and everyone else doesn’t? Child-care, caring responsibilities, activities and commitments outside of work, or just a healthy working practice, are often ignored and subtle pressure is put on people because that has become the norm.

How often have you seen someone at work, who is clearly ill, not able to work to capacity, and rather than generously spreading their germs, would be better in bed recuperating?

The reality is that working additional hours, or when ill does not improve productivity, and can lead to a sense of resentment, even if you no-one else has asked you to be at work.

Many people work extended hours on a regular basis or come to work ill because they either put pressure on themselves (which many managers do) or feel pressurised by senior management (directly or indirectly) and are following the example set by them.

The culture of the business becomes one where often unintentionally an expectation has been created that people will work longer days, without considering the impact on physical and mental health, work-life balance and the fact that this does not generally improve productivity.

Pro-active employers are starting to address these issues, by looking at the culture and values they want their business to reflect, by starting to look at their own working patterns and the example they set and by looking at what flexibility and balance they can give their employees.

If you recognise your company as needing to change its culture and working practices, why not drop me an email on and we can have a chat about how to get started.

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