“Presenteeism” describes the situation where employees turn up for work and often work for more hours than is required but do not perform effectively because they feel disengaged, poorly treated by their managers or have little control over jobs or tasks. Sometimes the underlying cause may be ill health and the employee feels required to turn up to work even though unwell, because of the expectations of the employer or the nature of the sickness and absence policy.

The line manager is the person who feels the effects of presenteeism first because it affects the departmental performance; however, this is measured by the organisation. He or she may also have to cope with those employees whose behaviour suggests that they are suffering from work-related stress — unnecessary long hours can sometimes be a symptom of this.

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