You’ve heard of absenteeism as a problem in the workforce, but what about “presenteeism?” For her dissertation in health management, Janie Crosmer surveyed faculty in universities across the country about their job performance. She found that many show up for work, but do not really feel engaged. They are present, but they are burned out.
This is more serious than playing Solitaire on the office computer. These faculty teach classes, advise students, and participate in governance without much thought. Research and education require constant self-evaluation and improvement, so these faculty members are not maximizing their potential.
Dr. Crosmer’s study suggests making university work more collaborative with professors filling in for each other when one is feeling swamped. The incentives for academic achievement do no seem to favor this arrangement. One cheap way to combat burnout is to make the workplace more enjoyable. Leadership can make humor and camaraderie more acceptable in a department without sacrificing intellectual quality.