18-20 Segment 1: Presenteeism



Going to work while not feeling well could be harming the economy. Three experts discuss the impact of presenteeism, when employees come into work but don’t get much done. Rob Hosking, Senior Vice President of the HR and staffing firm Ranstad USA, was involved with a national survey which found that over half of the participants always or frequently go in to work when they’re feeling sick.  Presenteeism is mostly caused by chronic conditions, like illnesses or injuries, as well as distractions from media and technology.

Todd Whitthorne, President of ACAP Health, discusses the various reasons and fears behind presenteeism. Employees can be afraid that they’re out of sick days or will lose vacation days, feel guilty that someone else will have to take on their responsibilities, or be worried that they’ll lose their jobs by missing too many days of work. But in the long run, coming in to work while unwell can cost the company more time and money. Presenteeism has also been found to affect 35-44 year olds and certain professions, such as flight attendants, more than others.

The role of employers in presenteeism is also important. Whitthorne encourages managers to examine the work culture they are creating in the office and the example they are setting for their employees. In the long run, accommodating employees helps the company more than encouraging them to come to work no matter what.

Chronic illnesses, such as allergies, diabetes, and migraines, are often behind presenteeism, rather than the common cold. Michael Klachevsky, Practice Consultant for Absence Management at Standard Insurance Company, says that the nation’s total cost of productivity loss at work because of chronic conditions can be billions of dollars a year. Mental health is an especially big factor, as it is rarely acknowledged or treated.

Klachevsky says that spending the money to accommodate these chronic conditions, especially under the motivation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ends up saving the company more money by making the employees more productive. The responsibility for saving the money lost on presenteeism falls to the employer and the health culture they create in their workplace, which can potentially improve the overall health of the population.

Find out more about these experts and about presenteeism by following the links below.


  • Rob Hosking, Senior Vice President, Randstad USA
  • Todd Whitthorne, President, ACAP Health
  • Michael Klachevsky, Practice Consultant for Absence Management, Standard Insurance Co.

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18-20 Segment 2: Coping with the Empty Nest



When life changes from revolving around the kids to adjusting to an empty nest, many parents find themselves asking “what next?” Wendy Aronssen, psychotherapist and author of Refeathering the Empty Nest: Life After the Children Leave, explains the common experiences of many parents when their last child leaves the home.

While popular culture often sees the empty nest as an opportunity for celebration, many parents commonly feel a sense of loss, insecurity, and instability. Aronssen says this is no surprise, because parents who have had the same life and job description for 18+ years are suddenly left without a label. She calls the experience of the empty nest “the shift,” because every aspect of life gets changed.

Aronssen says the emotional experience of empty nesters can follow the outlines of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  To handle all these emotions, Aronssen encourages parents to see the empty nest as an opportunity for growth and development as individuals and as a couple.

The impact on a couple’s marriage holds potential for the great rewards of a newly revived marriage or for divorce. It takes intentionality to rediscover goals and dreams for the parents. Aronssen also brings up the complication of the boomerang children, kids that return home after being unable to move out or find a job after graduation. She emphasizes the importance of setting clear expectations on both sides. Ultimately, there is a loss in the empty nest, but there are also many opportunities for a fulfilling future.

To learn more about empty nesting or to purchase a copy of Aronssen’s book, visit the links below.


  • Wendy Aronssen, psychotherapist and author, Refeathering the Empty Nest: Life After the Children Leave

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Medical Notes 18-20


Medical Notes this week…

If you’re heading outside here’s more reason to use insect repellant. A new report from the CDC shows that illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flee bites have more than tripled in the U.S. since 2004.  Reported cases of diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile, Zika, and Lyme disease increased to nearly 100,000 cases in 2016, and those are just the cases that officials know about. Many people get sick who are never reported. Experts say a warmer client means that ticks and mosquitoes are moving into areas where they couldn’t live before.

Chemicals used in fracking are often found in ground water supplies nearby.  And now a study shows those chemicals could harm the immune systems of children exposed in utero.  A study on mice in the journal Toxicological Sciences exposed pregnant mice to 23 fracking chemicals at levels similar to those found in ground water near fracking sites.  Offspring grew up with abnormal immune systems and an inability in females to fend off diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

And finally, a few years in the future people with food poisoning may be able to drink a cocktail of viruses to get better.  Researchers using a simulated small intestine have demonstrated that viruses can attack and kill E. coli without harming nearby beneficial bacteria.  The study in the journal Gut Microbes predicts that when the technique is perfected viral cocktails could replace antibiotics for the treatment of some bacterial infections.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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