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Canadian employees more aware of workplace presenteeism than employers

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Absence & Disability Management / Canada

Canadian employees more aware of workplace presenteeism than employers

Morneau Shepell releases study on the reasons and predictors of workplace absenteeism and presenteeism

TORONTO, June 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Morneau Shepell today released new findings and a full report from its national study into workplace absenteeism, which found that more than half of Canadian employees see presenteeism as a serious issue within their workplace. Presenteeism is defined as time spent at work while not productively engaged in work.

The new report, centred on a survey of employees, employers and physicians across Canada, found that eight out of 10 employee respondents self-reported experience with presenteeism, with 81 per cent indicating that they have gone into work while they were not able to perform as well as they would have liked. When asked why, 47 per cent indicated that physical sickness played a role, followed closely by stress/anxiety (40 per cent). Almost one in four (22 per cent) blamed issues with their work/workplace or co-workers/managers and 15 per cent specified depression.  

The survey also showed that employees are more likely to see presenteeism as a serious issue than employers. The majority of employees (53 per cent) indicated that presenteeism is a serious issue in their workplace, versus 32 per cent of employers. Employees are also more likely to see presenteeism as a more serious issue in their workplace than absenteeism, while employers are more likely to see the reverse. According to the report, more than half of employers (52 per cent) see absenteeism as a serious issue in their workplace compared to 43 per cent of employees.

"Despite reports of the multi-billion-dollar impact of employee absenteeism on the Canadian economy, as well as evidence of the mitigating effect of integrated absence management strategies, many employers may be unaware of the extent and causes of presenteeism and absenteeism issues within their own organization," said Paula Allen, Vice President of Research and Integrative Solutions at Morneau Shepell. "In fact, our 2014 Compensation and HR Trends research shows that 64 per cent of employers do not track the cost of incidental absence and 56 per cent do not know the average duration of their short-term disability claims."

According to the current report, there are different workplace factors that can predict the reason for absenteeism, be it illness or non-illness related. When asked to identify the reason for their last absence, the majority of employees (52 per cent) indicated the reason was not related to illness. Those employees who indicated a non-illness related reason were more likely to report both higher work-related stress and lower levels of support from their organization for mental wellness. Interestingly, illness-related absence was more likely for employees who reported that absence was a serious issue in their workplace. "This essentially indicates these employees perceive a culture of unmanaged absenteeism, which could cause strain in the workplace and take a toll on employee health," suggests Allen. On the presenteeism side of the equation, the report found that presenteeism can also be predicted by higher levels of reported work-related stress.

"Our research findings suggest that employee absenteeism is not random, meaning that predictors of both illness and non-illness related absence can be influenced by an employer," said Allen. "What this means is that employers have a tremendous opportunity to influence absenteeism in their workplaces, and ultimately improve the health, well-being and productivity of their organization."

Click here for a copy of the full report, The True Picture of Workplace Absenteeism.

About the Survey

The Morneau Shepell survey, conducted in November and December 2014, was designed to be representative of the Canadian population of employees, employers and physicians. The margins of error for the survey are +/- 3.09 per cent for employees, +/- 9.7 per cent for physicians, and +/- 9.8 per cent for employers, 19 times out of 20.

About Morneau Shepell Inc.

Morneau Shepell is the largest company in Canada offering human resources consulting and outsourcing services. The Company is the leading provider of employee and family assistance programs, as well as the largest administrator of retirement and benefits plans and the largest provider of integrated absence management solutions in Canada. Through health and productivity, administrative, and retirement solutions, Morneau Shepell helps clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity and improve their competitive position. Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves approximately 20,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations in North America. With approximately 3,700 employees in offices across North America, Morneau Shepell provides services to organizations across Canada, in the United States, and around the globe. Morneau Shepell is a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit

SOURCE Morneau Shepell - Absence & Disability Management

For further information: Heather MacDonald, Kaiser Lachance Communications, 647.725.2520 x207,; Nathan Gibson, Morneau Shepell, 416.390.2641,