What is it about?

The study explores the connection between leadership behavior and employee health, focusing on how leaders' actions, particularly working while sick (presenteeism), can influence employees' health and sick leave patterns. The research integrates various theories to suggest that when leaders work while ill, it encourages employees to do the same, which then leads to more employee sick leave. This theory was tested using data collected over 22 months from 74 leaders and their 412 team members. The results showed that indeed, leaders' presenteeism leads to more presenteeism in employees, which then increases their sick leave. This effect remained even after considering other factors like employees' health, workload, job autonomy, and demographics. Additionally, leaders' presenteeism indirectly affects employees' sick leave through increased employee presenteeism. These findings highlight the significant impact of leaders' health-related behaviors on their employees' health and behaviors.

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Why is it important?

The study underscores the significant impact of leadership behavior, specifically presenteeism (working while ill), on employee health outcomes. It reveals a cascading effect where leaders' decision to work when sick leads to similar behavior among employees, emphasizing the role of leaders as role models in the workplace. The findings have significant implications for developing workplace policies and leader training programs aimed at promoting healthier work environments and behaviors.


The study indirectly emphasizes the need for leaders to practice self-care, as their health behaviors have a ripple effect on their teams.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Rigotti
Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research (LIR) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Leaders as role models: Effects of leader presenteeism on employee presenteeism and sick leave, Work & Stress, February 2020, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/02678373.2020.1728420.
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