The rise of pleasanteeism and its impact on wellbeing at work

A quick summary:

Presenteeism and absenteeism can be a HR professional’s worst nightmare. In the modern workplace, however, there seems to be a new problem arising… 👀

Pleasanteeism. 🙃

As we navigate the aftermath of the pandemic, in a time of uncertainty and worry, here’s what HR leaders need to know about this new workplace problem. 🤔

  • What does pleasanteeism look like in employees? 
  • How does it differ from presenteeism/absenteeism? 
  • How can you prevent this new epidemic from spreading throughout your team?

What is pleasanteeism? 🙃

While a relatively new term in the HR world, pleasanteeism refers to the concealed stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil employees are experiencing in their day-to-day working lives. In an age of pressure to create corporate openness to mental health, employees feel they must hide negative emotions in the workplace.

In fact, more than half of UK employees have reported feeling the need to appear okay, despite suffering from poor wellbeing at work. That isn’t all, almost one in five are concerned about their stress being visible to others at work, proving pleasanteeism to be a growing concern for HR leaders. 

The reason some people decide to cover up their mental health and wellbeing needs is that they'd prefer to suggest everything is fine, and so as not to seem disruptive or problematic. 🤐

It should be seen as a stepping-stone to much larger problems, such as presenteeism and absenteeism. Disguising one’s emotions for too long creates unhappiness and despair. Leading to present employees, yet weakened performance and productivity. 📉

This downward spiral doesn’t end there, as employees will quickly develop traits of absenteeism, which will certainly have a knock-on effect on your business. 

How pleasanteeism can hinder wellbeing at work

Pleasanteeism is caused largely by a toxic workplace environment. In an ideal world, people can express their emotions without feeling uncomfortable doing so. In certain workplaces, this isn’t the case, as people are discouraged to be open about how they feel and encouraged to leave whatever problems they are facing outside the office. 

This approach to workplace culture must be abolished by HR leaders if they are to avoid pleasanteeism in the office. In recent years, burnout has become a status of hard work and determination. Yet a much less appealing picture is painted in reality when it comes to mental health and employee wellbeing.

 The difference between pleasanteeism, presenteeism, and absenteeism 🔎

While they all sound the same, pleasanteeism, presenteeism and absenteeism do differ slightly in their definitions. Here’s our best attempt to separate them in their most simple descriptions…


Concealing emotional turmoil and stress, so as not to come across as disruptive and problematic to colleagues and managers. 


Being present in the workplace, yet delivering underperforming results and/or showing a lack of productivity or care towards one’s work - presenteeism is very closely linked to pleasanteeism.


Probably the furthest difference between the three, absenteeism occurs when employees are absent from their jobs without good or clear reason - often caused by issues in the workplace. 

Whether that’s problems with colleagues or managers, stress-related issues, or overall lack of job satisfaction, there’s a variety of causes for absenteeism. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at how to prevent pleasanteeism from impacting wellbeing at work for your team. 👀

How to prevent it from impacting wellbeing at work 💪

Knowing how to minimise presenteeism is essential to improving wellbeing at work, and showing your team that you care as a leader.

Lead by example 🙌

First and quite possibly the most important prevention tactic is to lead by example. Show your employees that it’s okay to experience the ups and downs of everyday life. Be open with your own emotions, and make it a habit to ask your team members how they are feeling. 

Leading by example is one of the quickest ways to boost wellbeing at work. Bulldozing these walls of worry, judgement and backlash will see pleasanteeism vanish from employees, and an open culture of health and wellbeing emerge.

Educate your team on mental health and wellbeing at work 🎓

Understanding starts with better education. It is when we are unaware or unknowledgeable on subjects that problems and misconceptions occur. ❌

A highly recommended way to tackle pleasanteeism in the workplace is to consider mental health training for all of your team. Whether it’s hiring a speaker or undertaking an online course. 💻

Through educating your team, you will create a culture of mental health pros, who can identify poor wellbeing at work - rather than ridicule, attack, or conceal negative emotions. 

Invest in employee wellbeing initiatives 🏃‍♂️

Our final idea for preventing pleasanteeism, or presenteeism and absenteeism for that matter, is to invest in employee wellbeing initiatives. 

Examine your current employee benefits scheme, and consider how many of your employee benefits focus on wellbeing at work. 🔎

Yes, we all love free coffee from time to time, but the modern workplace is demanding better employee wellbeing initiatives. ☕️

Be it gym memberships, mental health conversations with managers, or team building activities, as a leader, it’s your job to think outside the box when it comes to wellbeing at work. 

The employee benefits platform your team needs in 2022

When it comes to employee wellbeing, there are a ton of great ways to increase health and happiness… 

It’s just knowing where to start! 🤯

Here at Heka, our employee wellbeing platform helps HR professionals and leaders alike transform their employee benefits schemes. We achieve this by offering more than 1000 employee wellbeing initiatives. 🧘‍♀️

Whether it’s healthy meal deliveries straight to the doorstep, virtual therapy sessions, or helping your team to build a fitter lifestyle, there’s something for everyone to improve wellbeing. 🚴‍♀️

So, if you’re serious about implementing wellbeing at work, book a demo with our experts to find out more about how Heka can help your team. 💚