I live in Wisconsin and all across our state this past Sunday afternoon you could sense the collective frustration as the Green Bay Packers lost their first round playoff game, a game they were heavily favored to win. The Packers went into that game against the New York Giants as the defending Super Bowl champions with the best regular season record of any team in the National Football League. Fans were already looking forward to the Packers playing in the NFC title game the following week and many had made Super Bowl plans to celebrate a second consecutive Super Bowl Title.
The pain of the fans regarding the Packer’s loss was not just that they did not expect it to happen. It was due to the fact that the game was not even close. The Giants completely outplayed the heavily favored Packers. The comments that I heard and read most frequently this past week from fans and sportswriters alike were that, “The Packer’s just never showed up.” Others lamented that, “The Packer’s were a ‘no show’ for their first round playoff game,” and some even said “The Packers were ‘missing in action.’” The contrast between their playoff performance and how fully present they had been from most every other game this season was dramatic.
There is a relatively new concept from the field of workplace wellness that would seem to describe the Packer’s performance this past Sunday. The concept is “presenteeism”, and it is a cousin to the concept of absenteeism. Absenteeism in the workplace means that the person does not physically show up for work. Presenteeism in the workplace instead means that an employee is present in the workplace, but something is causing them to not be “all there” and so their work is being performed at a subpar level. Of course, any of us can suffer from some degree of presenteeism on any given day. Fortunately for us though, unlike what happened to the Packers last week, there aren’t fifty million people witnessing our subpar performance.
So far the concept of presenteeism has only been researched in the area of workplace wellness. I have been doing some additional thinking though about how presenteeism can show up in the area of family wellness. What happens when parents are physically present with their children, but are not “all there?” What happens when spouses are physically present in the same home, but are emotionally a thousand miles apart? How present can a person be to family and/or friends when they are chronically stressed, or when they are exhausted from being over-scheduled? What about when they are not “all there” because of their patterns of alcohol or drug use?
The costs of presenteeism in the work place are usually considered economic. The costs of presenteeism in terms of personal and family wellness, however, could be additionally increased anxiety, hurt feelings, conflict, depression, diminished or broken relationships and an overall lack of vitality and wellness. Understanding the seriousness of chronic presenteeism in terms of family wellness is something we would all be wise to take a look at in our lives.
LIke the Packers, or for that matter any sports team or athletes, we will all have our off days, days when we just aren’t “all there,” but if you find that you are having more of those days than you are comfortable with, hit the pause button and take some time to reflect on what might need to change in your life. Start making those changes today and soon you will find yourself being more present to those around you, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.