Presenteeism at the Board

Written by:  Etain Case

Disturbing figures show that presenteeism (being present at work while ill) is hitting alarming levels across the UK.  According to a survey by CIPD in 2018, 86% of 1000 respondents had observed workplace presenteeism in the last year –  a 14% increase from the year before.

Presenteeism is unconducive to productivity, causing anxiety and depression, which are precursors to workplace burnout.  Besides being detrimental to all employees across an organisation, presenteeism is particularly concerning at board level.  Clear and concise decision-making relies upon senior executives having robust mental health.


While certainly a result of external workplace pressures, presenteeism can be symptomatic of internal, subconscious behaviours and beliefs.  The unconscious desire to succeed – regardless of personal cost – can underpin unhealthy workplace decisions.  Perhaps self-worth was compromised in early childhood, or a parent’s expectations were too high.   The child unknowingly carries these beliefs through to adulthood and into the workplace, where she/he is unable to create the boundaries necessary for his/her wellbeing.

This can set an unhealthy precedent, creating by a culture of presenteeism across the organisation.  It might also encourage junior employees to mimic their behaviour, in the belief that work takes priority over individual health and wellbeing.


Emotional ‘flu’ is best caught early through self-recovery and care, before it turns into emotional ‘pneumonia’.  Understanding one’s own internal world is the first step in creating a healthier, more balanced external environment.   One of the many benefits of this renewed clarity is gaining the power to create realistic and sustainable boundaries that are advantageous to workplace wellbeing.


Harley Street Executive supports senior executives in understanding their subconscious behaviours before the effects of burnout emerge and life begins to unravel.  We work with the subconscious drivers responsible for both positive and negative workplace behaviours, supporting senior executives in all aspects of workplace wellbeing.


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