Job Worries Boost ‘Presenteeism’ in Britain

By Staff Report

Jun. 4, 2009

The global recession is taking a toll on workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

British employees are spending more time at work practicing so-called “presenteeism” as they worry about their jobs during the recession, a new survey concludes.

The survey of 2,247 workers by the Lancaster University Center for Organizational Health and Wellbeing in Lancaster, England, found that 66 percent of employees are working more hours because of worries about job security, and 42 percent said feelings of insecurity regarding their jobs have increased in recent months.

Presenteeism is when employees become more conscientious about being present on the job but are not necessarily more productive.

The survey also gave some clues as to employees’ attitude about their jobs.

Forty-five percent agreed it is best to “play it safe at work and keep my head down.” Forty-one percent of respondents said they have a negative attitude at work.

“Presenteeism may make the employee feel more secure because he or she is putting the hours in, but there is no evidence that consistent long hours result in increased productivity,” Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said in a statement.

The health and well-being center, which launched in mid-May, said 71 percent of female employees reported spending more time at work versus 61 percent of male employees, suggesting that women may feel more vulnerable about their jobs than men, the survey concludes.

Filed by Michael Bradford of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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