Annurca | ‘Leaveism’ – the new workplace wellbeing threat
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‘Leaveism’ – the new workplace wellbeing threat

Employee wellbeing is being recognised as an increasingly important issue throughout the country. More and more businesses are accepting that healthy and happy staff tends to be more productive and valuable to their organisation, and they are now setting up wellbeing programmes or corporate health initiatives to support their workers. Companies are now moving beyond offering a subsidised gym membership and fruit in the office, to much more unique and tailored wellbeing initiatives. This is where ourselves here at Annurca step in. However there is a new workplace threat which businesses need to try and combat.

Research into leaveism is in the early stages, but organisations still need to be aware of its causes and impact on employee wellbeing. We’ve long been concerned about the impact of absenteeism and presenteeism on workers and workplaces. But now it looks like we need to turn our attention towards the threat of leaveism, as well as other current standing issues. Leaveism is when employees use allocated time off, such as annual leave entitlements, banked flexi-hours and re-rostered rest days, when they are in fact unwell.

But leaveism undoubtedly, and significantly, skews the true picture of workforce wellbeing. For example, in some organisations employees have a quota of sickness, which, if exceeded (such as by taking three or more days off sick, or having three or more occasions of sickness absence within a set period, etc), somehow reflects poor performance. Taking annual leave rather than sickness leave therefore makes a lot of sense to an employee who is worried about their perceived job performance.

Research indicates that 76 per cent of employees who have practised leaveism have done so to avoid being labelled as ‘poor performers’ or ‘unable to cope’ with their workload. This may lead to sickness absence going underreported by individual employees, and distorting both the incidence of sickness in the workplace and the organisation’s ability to understand and manage employee wellbeing. The issue for most organisations is the impact that leaveism would have if it converted into sickness absence.

Businesses are currently facing a whole host of challenges. Employee wellbeing, it could be argued, has never been so important in ensuring sustainable performance. Understanding employee behaviours is key to getting this right, so organisations should be mindful of the leaveism phenomena, and have a strategy in place to prevent this from happening. Annurca believe the appropriate wellbeing programme, specific to each individual after their initial health assessment, would be ideal towards combating leaveism.

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