Posted: March 24th, 2023


Although nurses should be present and available to care for patients and meet their medical needs, the aspect of presenteeism is a controversial issue due to the potential adverse effect on patient outcomes. Researchers define presenteeism as a behavior among employees, especially nurses to attend work regardless of sickness or similar factors that might affect their performance. Although presenteeism might appear like a positive behavior by employees towards an organization, the issue might have detrimental effects on patient safety.

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Various researchers have explored the issue of presenteeism in health care, especially involving nurses. For instance, Lui and Johnston (2019) conducted a study to verify an instrument that would evaluate presenteeism comprehensively in health care and personal exposure. Their Multidimensional Presenteeism Exposures and Productivity Survey (MPEPS-N) has proven effective in testing the effect of absenteeism in hospitals. The study revealed quantifiable organizational or individual exposures related to the behavior that affect the productivity of nurses and other caregivers. The measurement tool can be used in hospitals to determine the detrimental level of absenteeism and implement effective interventions to support the health and wellbeing of the human resource in a hospital. The measures are necessary to reduce the loss of productivity associated with presenteeism.

The issue of presenteeism has also attracted concerns, including in large organizations. For instance, Hines, Pazdernik, Konecny, and Breitenbach (2018) explored presenteeism among health care workers in a large U.S. hospital. The study also examined the association between loss of productivity and presenteeism from poor health and economic burden points of view. Their findings revealed that various health conditions affect daily productivity and increase the cost of care in the country. The article, similar to others that have explored the effect of presenteeism, recommends adequate collection of data relating to the variable and its inclusion in the design and implementation of health and wellness programs in health care. Hence, managers should strive to improve the health of the workers to reduce cases of presenteeism, its detrimental effects, and additional economic burden.

In another study related to resource limitation, Ferreira et al. (2019) revealed the adverse effects of presenteeism linked with productivity in health care. Presenteeism is associated with considerable productivity loss due to emotional exhaustion. The study applied the conservation of resources theory and the job demands-resources model to establish the effect of job engagement as a mediating factor in the association between the variables in a nation undergoing economic challenges. The research revealed that work engagement could play an essential role in resolving productivity loss due to presenteeism in areas experiencing economic downtime. Therefore, management of health care facilities should improve workers’ engagement to address the detrimental effect of emotional exhaustion related to presenteeism. The process will be instrumental in enhancing productivity regardless of resource limitations.

Evidence from the three articles reveals that presenteeism is a critical factor in the productivity outcomes in health care. When health care providers are unwell or emotionally exhausted, they risk the safety of their patients. They also have a low level of productivity, with adverse outcomes in terms of the economic burden to the organization and the health care system in general. Therefore, the evidence provided in the articles is vital to implement effective health and wellness programs in hospitals to address presenteeism and promote productivity. Overall, managers should use evidence-based approaches when creating such programs that target their human resources.

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