Headlines: May 2nd, 2008

Arriving first and being the last to leave is the aim of an increasing number of people in the public sector. Presenteeism, feeling obliged to work longer hours than are necessary to impress the management, is becoming almost as serious as absenteeism. These findings come from a survey by employee wellbeing specialist Right Corecare.

The research findings reveal that 39 per cent of employees working in the public sector frequently stay in the office longer than necessary. The research trounces the perception that the private sector works longer and harder than the public sector, with as many people, 42 percent, frequently working late in public sector organisations.

Managers’ demands are at the heart of the problem, with one in five public sector employees stating that everyone in their office is expected to work extra hours. However, longer workers are not necessarily harder workers, as a fifth admit to checking Facebook or surfing the net in the organisation’s time and 15 per cent get into work early or leave late even when they have little work to do. Whilst 41 percent of public sector employees stay in the office simply to get work done, 17 per cent admit they work late in order to be perceived as hard working.

But presenteeism often does not bear fruit according to Right Corecare’s research. Although 11 per cent of employees think staying in the office longer will help their career progression, only 3 per cent have actually received a promotion or pay rise as a result. And it seems the desire to impress colleagues wanes with age as a fifth of employees aged under 45 think longer workers are seen as harder workers, a figure that plummets to one in ten for the over 45s.

Unsurprisingly,spending longer at the office is having a detrimental effect on employees’ home lives. One in five respondents say presenteeism impacts on their personal relationships and three in ten admit longer hours have an adverse effect on their health.