Here, But Not All There

Zombie.jpgDonn Beach, aka Don the Beachcomber, nee Ernest Gantt, had quite the impact on the West Coast of the United States. I recall as a child an odd structure in Corona del Mar that looked like Disneyland’s Adventureland. Later, when I lived in Pacific Beach, I drove past one of his former restaurants on a daily basis. Though his Polynesian Villages are a distant memory, his rum-filled cocktails are a lasting legacy to a man who caught lightning in a (rum) bottle.

The Zombie is the most well-known of his tiki cocktails, but as he was cagey about the ingredients, neither this nor, likely, the one you remember having at that one place are the original. Start with 1.5 oz each light and dark rum in a shaker with ice. Add 1 oz of Apricot Brandy, 1 oz orange juice, and 3 oz pineapple juice. Squeeze in the juice of one lime (two if you’re using Key limes). Shake and pour into a glass. Add whatever fruit garnish you like—usually a pineapple slice, orange wedge, and cherry—then float ¾ oz of 151 proof rum. Ignite…carefully and drink through a straw. Make sure you have a soft place to land.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been slow to post any new entries. I contribute my lack of productivity to a summer cold and/or allergies. Either way, I really had two options: try to power through it or take a time out and recuperate. It’s a dilemma faced by workers every day and while it seems to be the noble act to power through, it’s not necessarily the best option. Several studies were conducted in the late oughts (2007-2009) to determine the annual costs of presenteeism (showing up to work despite illness) and the results were staggering.

Australia lost $34.1 Billion in 2009[1] to presenteeism.  In the United Kingdom, presenteeism costs businesses about £15.1 Billion[2] , just under twice the cost of absenteeism. Canada’s costs are approximately $15-25 Billion[3]. And the United States chimes in with an estimated $159.8 Billion[4]. In each nation, presenteeism costs more than absenteeism.

Some of the reasons for presenteeism include:

  • Employee can’t afford to take the day off
  • No back-up plan for tasks
  • More to do upon return to work
  • Concerns about job security

While the spirit behind presenteeism is “noble,” showing up sick does more harm than good. Most illnesses are protracted by “working through them.” This means more inefficient work time than simply an absence, increased likelihood of medical treatment, meaning increased insurance costs, and, an annual tradition in many workplaces, the spread of the illness to other personnel.

Providing employees the opportunity to work from home, flexible or bankable sick leave, and a culture of trust can help reduce presenteeism. How does your organization address the presenteeism issue?

 

[1] http://www.medibank.com.au/client/documents/pdfs/sick_at_work.pdf

[2] http://www.health-matters.co.uk/news/the-cost-of-presenteeism—bupa-report

[3] http://www.mentalhealthnews.ca/workplace/addressing-presenteeism-and-its-impact-on-business-performance-and-productivity

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14665809

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