Introduction According to the literature presenteeism (defined as people turning up at work despite illness) is closely related to work related factors such as high job demands, time pressure or difficulties in staff replacement. On the other hand, there is growing evidence that managers and supervisors have a huge impact on employees’ health and well-being. We have been wondering if leadership also has an effect on employees’ behaviour in case of illness.
Methods PubMed, Business Source Complete and PsycINFO were searched for relevant literature. Internet search and scanning reference lists complemented our search. Two authors independently reviewed titles, assessed articles’ eligibility and extracted relevant data. Papers examining presenteeism in the context of management or leadership were included. Articles in languages other than English or German were excluded from further research.
Results In total 418 studies were identified. 27 met the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies addressed the role of managers with regard to the disclosure of diseases, within return-to-work discussions or in integration management. Others analysed the impact of different leadership styles on presenteeism in general. Studies suggest that the leaders’ own behaviours in case of illness as well as their attitudes towards illness play an important role in the context. Leaders serve as role models and therefore tend to have a huge impact on the pressure perceived by employees. Moreover, support from management, leadership qualities as well as leadership style tend to be an issue. Correlations often were no longer significant when other variables such as health problems, demographic variables or organisational factors were incorporated.
Discussion Results from quantitative and qualitative studies suggest that there is a correlation between leadership and presenteeism. However, results are not conclusive. Moreover, significant correlations disappeared when multivariate analyses were undertaken. Thus, results have to be interpreted with care.