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Employers have many opportunities to prevent absence

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Employers have many opportunities to prevent absence

Morneau Shepell to present research at international occupational stress and health conference in Atlanta

ATLANTA, GA, May 7, 2015 /CNW/ - Researchers at Morneau Shepell, one of the world's leading providers of employee and family assistance programs, have validated a chain of factors that predict absenteeism.

The Company is presenting on this topic Friday, May 8, at the American Psychological Association's conference, "Work, Stress and Health 2015: Sustainable Work, Sustainable Health, Sustainable Organizations."

"Our study builds on a growing body of research and suggests that presenteeism may be an early indicator of future absences," said Paula Allen, Vice President of Research and Integrative Solutions, Morneau Shepell. "Given the significant relationship between diminished mental health, increasing presenteeism and an increase in absenteeism, it is imperative employers address issues related to both mental health and presenteeism early with their staff in order to avoid the long-term effects of absenteeism and its associated costs."  Presenteeism happens when someone goes to work and their productivity is impaired because of illness or personal issues.

Morneau Shepell's statistical model indicates that the link between decreasing health and absence may not always be direct. In other words, an individual who begins to feel ill mentally or physically may not always take sick time right away. Changes in overall health can significantly predict changes in mental health.  In turn, changes in mental health can lead to presenteeism; and depending on the situation, the existence of presenteeism can significantly predict time off work. In other words, there are steps in between someone beginning to feel ill and their absence from work.  These intermediate steps can be viewed as risk indicators that provide more than one opportunity to intervene, in order to help avoid someone taking time off work.

"This is part of why the same health issue in two different people may result in work absence for one person and not another," said Allen. "Many employers have programs to support employees with health issues in staying at work, however, when this does not happen early, a chain can follow – ill health can lead to decreased mental health, presenteeism is more likely to be triggered, and absence is more likely as a result. Even if support is not provided at the first sign of ill health, preventing absence through intervention can still be successful by attending to any signs of mental health issues or presenteeism."

"Absenteeism, short-term disability and finally, long-term disability, can have negative consequences for both the employee and employer, so preventative action makes a lot of sense," said Luc Bourgeois, Manager, Research and Analytics, Morneau Shepell. "Unfortunately, presenteeism is difficult to measure on an aggregate level, but typically, well-trained managers can see when an employee's behaviour or productivity has changed.  It is important to intervene and encourage the employee to seek help at that point, before the situation progresses."

The 11th international conference on occupational stress and health is being held May 6 to 9, 2015, at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia.

About Morneau Shepell Inc.

Morneau Shepell is a leading North American provider of human resources consulting and outsourcing services. The Company is a leading provider of employee and family assistance programs, as well as one of the largest administrators of retirement and benefits plans and one of the largest providers of integrated absence management solutions. 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 about 3,600 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 Inc.

For further information: Nathan Gibson, Morneau Shepell, 416.390.2641,