The New “presenteeism” Culture
Employees are spending more time at work to impress their managers during the recession, but productivity levels are falling, research by management software firm OfficeMetrics has found.
The survey of more than 7,000 UK employees found that staff are now spending an average of an extra 15 minutes each day at work compared to nine months ago, in order to prove their commitment and worth to managers.
However, the poll revealed that the amount of time spent on job related activities has dropped by 3%, with many staff using extra time for personal pursuits such as surfing the Internet.
OfficeMetrics managing director, Jon Mulligan, warned that employers could be “misled” if they judged staff performance solely on the time that they spent in the office.
“Many of those who seem to be spending longer at work are in fact spending more time on personal browsing and social networking sites,” he said.
“Longer hours in the office are only beneficial to the company if that time is being spent productively towards common businesses goals,” added Mulligan. “Therefore, employees and managers need to understand how time is actually spent rather than clock watching.”
According to Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development senior policy adviser, Ben Wilmott, using clear performance criteria to manage staff and judging performance on output, rather than the length of time spent at work, could help create a clearer picture of which staff were actually working harder.
“If staff are clear on their job roles and how they are going to be judged, they’ll be less insecure and less likely to stay late for the sake of it, which can lead to a culture of presenteeism,” he said.
“Employers also need to lead by example,” added Wilmott. “They have a responsibility not to turn a blind eye. They should be direct about it, and tell staff to go home at night, even if they don’t personally leave the office. Staff feeling pressurised to stay late won’t improve productivity — if anything, if employees feel stressed out, efficiency will go down.”