Presenteeism and absenteeism: differentiated understanding of related phenomena

J Occup Health Psychol. 2013 Jan;18(1):75-86. doi: 10.1037/a0030932. Epub 2012 Dec 31.


In the past it was assumed that work attendance equated to performance. It now appears that health-related loss of productivity can be traced equally to workers showing up at work as well as to workers choosing not to. Presenteeism in the workplace, showing up for work while sick, seems now more prevalent than absenteeism. These findings are forcing organizations to reconsider their approaches regarding regular work attendance. Given this, and echoing recommendations in the literature, this study seeks to identify the main behavioral correlates of presenteeism and absenteeism in the workplace. Comparative analysis of the data from a representative sample of executives from the Public Service of Canada enables us to draw a unique picture of presenteeism and absenteeism with regards not only to the impacts of health disorders but also to the demographic, organizational, and individual factors involved. Results provide a better understanding of the similarities and differences between these phenomena, and more specifically, of the differentiated influence of certain variables. These findings provide food for thought and may pave the way to the development of new organizational measures designed to manage absenteeism without creating presenteeism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Canada
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personnel Loyalty
  • Sex Factors
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / psychology