Presenteeism an issue in UK workplaces

More than two thirds (67 per cent) of 18-26 year olds have admitted to ‘faking’ the extent of their workloads by staying late at the office beyond their contracted hours.

This figure equates to nearly 1.2 million young professionals in the UK, finds a study by Ricoh.

A report by the tech company examines the extent to which young professionals are truly being given the platform to build a successful career in the UK.

Polling 1,249 knowledge workers across the UK, the research also reveals that 39 per cent of 18-26 year-olds believe working away from the office could damage their career progression, while nearly half (41 per cent) feel their bosses favour staff that work over their contracted hours in the office.

Phil Keoghan, CEO of Ricoh UK and Ireland says, ‘Britain cannot continue to allow these outdated and analogue working practices to triumph in the digital age.

‘We should be equipping new generations of young professionals with the latest technologies and enabling them with personalised flexible working plans so they can bring new skills to businesses.’

New legislation for flexible working

Keoghan adds that, despite the government introducing new legislation to grant every employee the legal right to request flexible working almost two years ago, businesses appear to still be rewarding the idea that employees who work the longest hours at their desks, not those producing the best work, will be favoured by management.

The findings also reveal that young professionals are calling for the government to do more to support businesses as they implement a more tech-enabled working culture, with nearly one in three (30 per cent) saying that the government is performing poorly in its efforts to help people work flexibly.

The young workers have pinpointed education as a key way for the government and businesses to accelerate change in this area, with 58 per cent calling for the government to educate employers more about the benefits of flexible working.

Nearly half (49 per cent) believe the government should ensure businesses are clear on their employer obligations to provide access to this style of work.

More than one in three (39 per cent) call for the government to educate businesses about their employees’ rights around tech-enabled working.

Young workers also appreciate the relationship between digital skills and success, with nearly half (47 per cent) calling for the government to connect employers with technology experts, and a third (31 per cent) calling for it to provide grants and funding for the provision of new technologies to enable a more flexible workforce.

Keoghan says, ‘As digital natives naturally accustomed to using mobiles and tablet computers for work and pleasure, young British workers are hit hardest by the impact of this old-fashioned working etiquette.

‘We cannot risk letting the UK’s digital economy stall by failing to enable the next generation to embrace their own workstyles through technology.

Only by freeing the country’s future leaders from the shackles of a ‘presenteeist’ culture at work can we truly foster wider innovation and positive change.’

Further reading on presenteeism

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Workplace Culture