Is Presenteeism Affecting You or Your Team?

Steps for Re-engaging at Work

Presenteeism –

“being physically on a call or in a meeting but not being mentally or emotionally present.”

In March when the pandemic hit, we experienced seismic shifts at work, at home and in life. Yet, we rallied, made workspaces at home and we learned how to connect and work virtually as life and work blended into one giant blur. And now, many of us work beside our pets, partners and children online all day, every day. Seven months in, the slow and steady grind of this pandemic continues to test employee engagement.

HR professionals report they’ve noticed an alarming trend of workers canceling on meetings, losing their cool in group virtual meetings, and outright not showing up for scheduled interactions.

Why? A few significant reasons:

  1. The Federal Reserve predicts unemployment will be elevated for years.
  2. Reports show people fortunate enough to be employed still face the uncertainty of possible layoffs and furloughs in the future.
  3. The ongoing isolation and need for virtual work and life have led to a new syndrome called “presenteeism” – a state of being physically on a call or in a virtual meeting, but not being mentally or emotionally present.

The cause? Burnout, stress, fear, resignation and uncertainty. Do not turn a blind eye to these emotions, they are real, but they do not have to be our new normal.

Korn Ferry cites a study by Harvard Business Review. Here are some steps to borrow to improve engagement and avoid presenteeism.

  • Recognize high performers
  • Connect each job to the bigger strategy
  • Senior leadership should continually offer updates on strategy
  • Regularly communicate business goals to all employees
  • Be sure to align individual staff goals with corporate goals
  • Align all assessments and performance reviews with corporate goals, especially if they have shifted

What can you do?

  • Check in on each other. Be sure people are resting and recovering from the burdens of the pandemic.
  • Watch your scheduling. Avoid back to back virtual  meetings.
  • Clear is kind. Make sure everyone is clear on company values, goals and strategies. And if something has changed, communicate quickly and efficiently
  • Become a feedback junkie. Ask for it with courage and offer it with kindness. This is how you find out what is and is not working for your team.
  • Go back to the basics, connect each job to the business values and remind each other how much your contributions matter.
  • Be a learner. The conventional ways of doing business have changed. Broaden your scope, embrace new ideas and borrow from outside your industry.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Get creative, celebrate wins virtually and get good at publicly acknowledging successes, even small ones.
  • Share the wealth. When your company has a financial win, spread the kudos.
  • Train, develop and continue to invest in yourself. Skills and productivity are keys to personal and professional success. Need help? Book Kevin & Jackie for a virtual keynote to elevate your team.
  • Engage in cross training and step outside your prescribed work roles.