How Do Chronic Illnesses Impact Employee Productivity

Chronic illnesses affect millions of people around the world. Living with chronic illnesses can be a challenging experience, and working productively with a chronic disease can be even more demanding. Chronic illnesses negatively affect the physical and mental health of people. They also lower the energy levels and level of productivity.

People with chronic conditions affect the lives of people around them as well. The family members providing care may also have to adjust their schedules accordingly. Moreover, employees with chronic illnesses may leave the workforce, reduce their work hours, or may take a temporary leave. All these factors can affect the performance of their companies.   

As chronic illnesses significantly reduce productivity so, workplaces often hire managers to support employees facing any such issues. Managers work as a liaison between the employees and the organization. Therefore, they also provide suggestions to the organization, like reducing the work hours or workload of employees with chronic illnesses. To become a healthcare manager in any setting, you can pursue a public health degree. It will equip you with the required knowledge and tools to design and implement healthcare programs in the company, monitor the health status of the employees, and develop health policies for the company. If you live around Texas, Lamar University offers an excellent online Master of Public health degree program.

In this article, we are going to discuss how chronic illnesses can impact employee productivity and how to manage it.

Increased absenteeism

Employees with chronic diseases may be dealing with a new challenge every day. Some days, their symptoms can prompt them to stay home and seek care. Functional limitations caused by a chronic disease vary based on the type and severity of the disease. Moreover, age, gender, and other medical conditions also play a part in determining how much an individual may be affected by a specific chronic illness.

Functional limitations caused by chronic illnesses can affect the day-to-day activities of the affected. They may find it difficult to wake up and reach work on time. Along with these, chronic pain is another added factor that can lead to an absence from work.

Overall, absenteeism negatively affects productivity. If someone works less, they’re likely to be less productive, and low productivity reduces the quality of work as well. Therefore, low productivity affects the career prospects of the employees and the company’s ability to remain competitive.   

Reduced motivation

People with chronic illnesses are more prone to mental illnesses. They are often diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Dealing with physical illnesses, along with mental issues, can zap the motivation and zest for any activity. Low motivation leads to low morale, energy, and self-esteem. Low self-esteem leads to overall low work performance. Therefore, low motivation, directly and indirectly, negatively affects employee productivity.

Low motivation in the workplace can also cause high employee turnover, poor communication, low levels of communication, and low productivity. Lack of motivation can also increase the absence rates of employees, and we have already discussed how that affects productivity. Hence, one factor leads to another, and the whole workplace bears the consequences.


Presenteeism, also called sickness presence, is the act of showing up at work without being productive probably, because of ill health. Many employees with chronic illnesses show up at work every day, but they are unable to entirely focus on work. The symptoms of their disease can stop them from living up to their potential by affecting their productivity.

When employees are physically present at work but cannot optimally perform their duties, they are more prone to making mistakes on the job. Overall, presenteeism leads to low productivity in employees and affects the company’s performance.  

How to manage symptoms to boost productivity?

Now that we have discussed the factors that lead to low productivity in chronically ill employees, let’s discuss how to deal with them to boost productivity. Managing symptoms shouldn’t only be the employee’s job, and the company should also provide some relief to help employees better manage their symptoms and boost productivity.

Living and working with a chronic illness can be challenging, but managing your energy levels wisely, can help you live a productive life. Discuss your condition with the authorities at work. Stay confident and motivated by following a healthy routine. Stay positive and develop healthy social connections at work. All of that will boost your productivity levels.

Companies and health managers should design and introduce effective health policies for chronically ill employees. For example, allowing them to work from home will help reduce absenteeism. Moreover, sending them to support groups or other relaxing activities can keep them motivated. These efforts will help boost the productivity of employees with chronic diseases.

The Bottom Line

Living with chronic illnesses can be mentally and physically challenging. Physical chronic diseases often lead to the development of mental problems. Hence, every aspect of the life of a chronically ill person is affected. Their work performance degrades, and they also become less productive. Many factors can contribute to their low productivity at work.

They face several functional challenges due to their illness, leading to absenteeism, reduced motivation, and presenteeism. Skipping work regularly, dealing with mental problems, and having no energy to work even when showing up can ultimately make them less productive.

This article has discussed how people can live productive lives by developing healthy routines. And how companies can help them by introducing efficient health policies, providing relief and motivation to ultimately increase their productivity. Hopefully, this article will help you understand how chronic illnesses impact employee productivity.