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Absenteeism? Presenteeism? How much does this cost?

If we tell you CHF 100’000’000? Do you think it is possible? Well, let me introduce you to one of our clients, a private hospital where we were appointed to study their level of absenteeism.

Our first questions:

When you calculate absenteeism what do you take into account? What else do you look at besides sickness, injuries and accidents?

Their Managing Director was expecting to have a “standard” rate of absenteeism at 8-13% in line with the sector though he wanted that we had a closer look and performed a deeper analysis of what caused absences.

We found that only 3% of absences were caused by long-term sickness or serious injuries! Another finding was that people were taking days off using their “sickness rights”: 8 days per year without medical certificate! Considering absenteeism under different angles we also observed a fair amount of “presenteeism”: people being present, even for long hours, but not being engaged and productive.

From our research, we found out that a “toxic” work environment is a multiplier: People who fall sick or are injured in a toxic environment will simply multiply by 2 their absences.


  1. When people are very unhappy, they first stop working, discuss their feelings with colleagues and then somehow fall sick and decide to stay home.

  2. Then, when they return the same process takes place for some time before they start to be productive again.

  3. During an absence, the people who remain need to pick up the slack and work more to make up for those who are home, tired and unhappy! The people who are forced to do this extra work become frustrated, which happens to even the best employees. In a situation like this by the way injuries tend to increase.

The main cause of absenteeism in a “toxic” environment is clearly an inadequate management style. And then we are told that, of course a bad management style is a habit, which is difficult to change!

So, in the case of this private hospital we left them a report explaining that, all included, the true rate of absenteeism we found is 25%! With a total payroll of 400’000’000 the cost was easy to figure out!

Do you know what is the cost of presenteeism in your company?

One of the solutions to positively address the above is to train employees to speak up when it matters, train the manager on their role and measure the impact of action plans by “taking the pulse” of your people’s engagement and happiness individually, on an ongoing and frequent basis and act on the feedback without delay.

Like you monitor your health by measuring your heart rate and blood pressure, do the same for your team, department or company.

You know that a good leader is a good listener; takes steps in the right direction.

What do you think?

Contact us, we would be glad to answer your questions.

About Inspiring Culture

At Inspiring Culture, we believe that sustainable performance comes from combining business and people management excellence.


Achieving world class leadership

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