top of page

Exploring presenteeism in the Deaf community

Recently, we came across a term that piqued our interest— "presenteeism." Have you ever heard of it before? As we explored this concept for the first time, we were pleasantly surprised, and we felt it was well worth sharing this newfound knowledge within our community, especially considering its impact on deaf individuals.

The truth about presenteeism in your workplace

Understanding Presenteeism

Presenteeism refers to the phenomenon where employees are physically present at work but are not fully engaged or productive due to health issues, stress, or other factors.

In contrast, absenteeism occurs when employees are frequently absent from work. While absenteeism and presenteeism may seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, they both contribute to decreased productivity and can have a negative impact on a company's overall performance.

The impact of Presenteeism on Deaf Individuals

For deaf individuals, navigating presenteeism can present unique challenges:

Communication Struggles

  • Scenario: A deaf employee is physically present at a meeting but struggles to follow the discussion due to a lack of effective communication accommodations, such as sign language interpreters or real-time captioning.

  • Impact: The employee may feel isolated, experience heightened stress, and be less engaged in workplace discussions, leading to reduced productivity.

Navigating a Less Inclusive Environment

  • Scenario: A workplace lacks visual or written communication alternatives, making it challenging for deaf individuals to fully participate in daily interactions.

  • Impact: Deaf employees may experience fatigue from constantly navigating communication barriers, leading to decreased job satisfaction and increased presenteeism. Read about what's Listening/Concentration fatigue here.

Reluctance to Take Breaks

  • Scenario: A deaf employee is hesitant to take breaks during the workday to avoid drawing attention to their unique needs.

  • Impact: This can lead to increased stress, fatigue, and burnout as the individual tries to keep up with the demands of the workplace without adequate support.

Limited Access to Information

  • Scenario: Important announcements are made through audio-only channels without providing accessible alternatives for deaf employees.

  • Impact: Deaf individuals may miss crucial information, affecting their ability to perform tasks efficiently and contributing to feelings of exclusion.

Fear of Stigma

  • Scenario: A deaf employee is hesitant to request additional support or accommodations out of fear of being perceived as less competent.

  • Impact: The employee may avoid seeking necessary assistance, potentially leading to misunderstandings, increased stress, and a reluctance to fully engage in tasks.

Consequences for Companies

The consequences of presenteeism and absenteeism are far-reaching. For businesses, it can lead to decreased productivity, increased workplace stress creating a toxic work environment, and a decline in overall employee morale.

Tips and Advice for Employers

It's essential for workplaces to be aware of these challenges and proactively address them to create an inclusive environment that minimises presenteeism among deaf employees:

1. Educate and Raise Awareness:

  • Create awareness about presenteeism and its impact on individuals and the company.

2. Educate your Staff:

  • Implement training programs to raise awareness about diverse communication needs and foster a more inclusive workplace.

3. Flexible Working Arrangements:

  • Implement flexible work options, such as remote work or flexible hours, empowering employees to manage their work in a way that suits them best.

4. Mental Health Support:

  • Promote mental health initiatives to address stressors that may contribute to presenteeism or absenteeism.

5. Open Dialogue:

  • Schedule regular check-ins to understand the challenges employees might be facing and offer tailored support.

We hope that by decoding this new concept and its impact on both employees and company dynamics, it helps implement flexible policies, promote open communication, and break down barriers, creating a more harmonious and productive work environment for everyone.

Have you encountered presenteeism or absenteeism in your workplace? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below.

Stay tuned for more insights and solutions to enhance workplace inclusivity.


154 views0 comments


bottom of page