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BY DR. STEVEN A. GEST, M.D., Founder and CMO

Sometimes workers just don’t show up for work. Maybe they call in sick; or maybe they don’t even bother with that. That’s absenteeism, and its impact is easy to measure. Any manager who has found not enough staff to get the work done, or who has had to cover a shift for an absent worker, can give you a pretty close estimate of what absenteeism is costing the business.

So, employers often come down hard on absenteeism. Workers are told, get yourself to work, or don’t bother coming back. And for some workers, that might be an effective motivator. Unfortunately, some workers take it so seriously that they come to work even when they are too sick to be productive. So they’re sitting at their desk, or stocking shelves, or teaching – but they’re not doing it as well as they would when they are healthy.

The problem of lost productivity that results from workers who come in to work with a cold – or with some other physical, mental,or stress-related condition that results in lost productivity – is called presenteeism. And you can’t fix it by disciplining workers for absenteeism.

What’s Ailing Workers?

There are a number of reasons workers may be present at work, but less productive. It’s possible that they are:


  • Feeling fine physically, but struggling with a personal problem. The cost to employers of workers who are struggling with untreated mental illness or dealing with a difficult personal issue (such as substance abuse) is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Feeling fine physically, but struggling with stress. Stressed-out workers are less productive, and they can bring down the morale and productivity of their co-workers.


The good news is that there’s one treatment that is effective for all of the above..

The Cure-All

It turns out that the worker who is coughing and aching; the worker whose heart is breaking; and the worker who is anxious about corporate restructuring all need the same thing to regain their productivity: a comprehensive health benefits program. According to the CDC, workplace health programs that address your workers’ needs can improve a company’s morale, productivity, employee retention and serve as a recruiting tool.

Here’s what a solid healthcare plan can do for you:

  • For the worker who is using too many sick days, the right health care can get to the root of the problem, helping to get their high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma or other chronic health condition under control.
  • For the worker who is saving sick days to take care of their family members, the right health care can help keep their children healthy or help put workers in touch with the resources that can help with care for aging parents.For workers whose pain isn’t physical, the right healthcare plan can put them in touch with psychological counseling and other individual and group support services that can help them manage difficult emotions. Sometimes just talking about your problem with real people in the same situation can point you in the right direction and make you feel better. Schedule a demo of GoHealthNow to learn about moderated user groups that are part of the platform, where your employees can interact with people with the same health conditions or problems, exchange tips and information about treatments options and find the right healthcare specialist.
  • For workers who are stressed, the right healthcare plan can help them to effectively manage stress, connect to the right healthcare providers, and improve productivity. Consider GoHealthNow telemedicine platform that will connect your employees from their workplace or home to real people dealing with the same problems and healthcare professionals who can help manage stress.

The Takeaway

Are poor physical health,  mental health form, or stress getting in the way of your workers’ productivity? If so, check the benefits available in your health plan. Because when you take care of your employees’ health, they’ll take care of business for you. If you are looking for end-to-end solution, Schedule a Demo of the GoHealthNow platform.

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