Present & Not At Work

“Researchers say that presenteeism—the problem of workers’ being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning—can cut individual productivity by one-third or more. In fact, presenteeism appears to be a much costlier problem than its productivity-reducing counterpart, absenteeism. And, unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always apparent: You know when someone doesn’t show up for work, but you often can’t tell when—or how much—illness or a medical condition is hindering someone’s performance,” Paul Hemp reported in the Harvard Business Review.

Worker performance can be affected by many things; lack of sleep, chronic health conditions not severe enough to warrant staying home, psychological challenges, etc. This is different than an employee who is malingering or goofing off on the job to avoid work.  These are employees who want to work but their circumstances are preventing them from performing at the optimal level. Some behaviors that are noticeable, according to the Virgin Pulse Institute, are:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of attention of easily distracted
  • Their engagement with their job may decrease and they may become disinterested in what they’re doing and seem unconcerned about outcomes (i.e. less competitive)
  • Their performance may deteriorate. They may:
    • Arrive late or leave early
    • Have more accidents or altercations with colleagues
    • Begin falling asleep at work
    • Become unproductive

Among the causes for these issues is one most employees never expected to have to handle. That is caring for an elderly parent.  Caregiving is one of the top three stressors in life. 70 percent of caregivers have work related difficulties such as arriving late, leaving early, cutting back on hours or even stopping working entirely. This is costing businesses an estimated $33.6 billion per year in presenteeism, higher health insurance costs and eventually the loss of talent, reports Torch Light. This is why employers are beginning to look at long term care insurance and eldercare services in a new light.

Long term care insurance is now being considered a valuable option for rank and file employees and executives.  Worksite programs offer discounts and simplified underwriting if there are a minimum number of policies purchased (usually around 10) and the discounts are extended to spouses and parents.  There are also programs designed for executives so that long term care insurance can be part of an executive bonus plan, supplement a deferred compensation agreement.  What is a significant feature of these programs is the employee education.  It is unfortunate, but unless someone has had experience with a family member or friend needing this type of care, most people are ignorant of the need for it and what it involves.

The employee, usually at a time in life when they are saving for their children’s education and their own retirement, is now faced with this new challenge of helping Mom or Dad (or both) with their long-term care needs.  Whether it is hands-on caregiving or long distance, it means taking on a whole new set of problems never anticipated.  Their lives are disrupted emotionally, financially and the stress begins to pile on. They could be an employee who was enthusiastic about his work, but because of this situation is now too distracted to make work the priority it once was.

Wouldn’t it be nice if his employer had offered long term care insurance and Mom or Dad was covered and all the employee had to do was file a claim after checking with HR for a recommendation for a Home Health Agency? It could work this way at very little cost to the employer.  All you have to do is pick up the phone and call.

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Patti Goldfarb

Patti Goldfarb

Patti Goldfarb is an employee benefits specialist and owner of the Employee Benefits Advisors Group. She has written and spoken about healthcare reform since its passage in 2010. If your business would like a consultation, Patti can be reached at (201) 255-6239 or

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