Do you know what the word presenteeism means? We certainly didn’t before we started researching how to best help people and companies increase their productivity and efficiency.

It’s modeled after the word “absenteeism”, but while the latter means people being absent from work mostly because of mental or physical health issues, presenteeism describes people being at work while sick or not at their best, again mainly due to mental and physical health problems.

But why is it important? It’s actually a big problem for businesses and has been for a long time, but in contrast to absenteeism, it’s difficult to measure and has therefore been more easily overlooked. Funnily enough, with the recent Covid-Pandemic (yes, we consciously say recent, because we’re a bunch of optimists!), the rate of absenteeism has actually gone down, but presenteeism has gone up. It seems plausible when you consider that so many people were working from home either due to them having Covid, but still not feeling too unwell to stop working, or due to government policies having people working from home and workers wanting to support their business by fighting through a minor illness.

And while it is difficult to get exact numbers on how much this might be costing your company, research estimates that you could lose up to £4’000 per employee per year because of it.1

While physical health plays an important role, some of the most common causes of presenteeism are actually related to mental health issues, such as stress, depression and anxiety.

So, how can we try to improve our physical and mental health to reduce presenteeism and get the productivity of our teams back on track? Obviously, mental health is a very complex issue and various factors can play a role in its development.

One of the most obvious yet under-recognised factors in the development of mental health issues is nutrition. Giving your brain adequate amounts of all the important nutrients, such as complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water supports healthy neurotransmitter activity.

Science has proven long ago that good nutrition has been linked to higher attention levels, academic success and diminishes the progression of memory loss and other cognitive problems2+3.

As an example, Folic acid, which is present in green leafy vegetables (salads, kale, etc.) has been shown to help reducing stress and depression, while Vitamin B5, present in whole grains, can help improve your memory. So why not try this original and tasty recipe from Riverford here.

If you want to understand the link between nutrition and brain function, as well as learn about how you can improve your team’s efficiency through simple food choices and lower the rates of presenteeism in your company, then head to our website and book a call to speak to one of our team!

1 Sickness presenteeism: measurement and management challenges; Zara Whysall et al., Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, August 2017

2 Meyers et al., School Breakfast Program and school performance, Am J Dis Child, 1989; 143(10):1234-9

3 Gomez-Pinilla, F., Brain Foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jul; 9(7):568-578