Being at work is not equivalent to working. When you spend part of your work day on tasks other than work, this is what is termed "presentism" in terms of work. According to a 2019 Adecco study, 30.8% of Spanish companies have detected "presentism" practices. "This can happen due to lack of work ethic, when the employee shifts away from his duties, but also when the management values the time spent more than the quantity and quality of the work done," says Eva Rimbau, human resources expert and professor of the Economics and Business Studies at the UOC (Open University of Catalonia). For experts, the last option is what gives the true meaning of the term "presentism": being in the workplace longer than you should be, as the HR consultant says.
This means that the employee is more hours away from work than those established per week under the contract, that he does not enjoy the vacation he has or does not ask for sick leave. "He is present at the workplace but cannot perform it properly because he has not been rested or ill," says Rimbau. He thus becomes a present but disconnected worker, mentally absent. According to a 2015 report from the UOC's OBS Business School report, more and more companies are detecting employees who are not focused on the job, even though they are physically in place.
"Possible reasons include insecurity of the job, due to regulatory files or other template restructuring processes, the fact that they have a temporary contract that they do not know if they will be renewed, etc.", says Rimbau. "If an employee is experiencing such a situation, he does not want to leave the job before his colleagues or bosses out of fear of being fired, which unnecessarily lengthens his working day," says Rimbau. The OBS Bussiness School study warned that presentism in Spain has grown by 40% due to the fear of losing his job.
However, the causes are not only based on the fear of the workers, they can also be on the organization as well as the managers. In relation to the organization, according to Rimbau, there can be a culture of working many hours derived from the founders of the company and senior management, who are "in love" with the project and demand the same dedication to its staff. "It could also happen to companies where there is really an overload of work because they don't hire the right people or they don't have the right resources," he says.
As for managers, it may be because they don't know how to set goals and keep track of them. Then, "they rate whether their workers are good or bad and are guided primarily by their hours of presence," says Rimbau.
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