I grew up with a father who loved me but was incapable of saying it. I knew he loved me because he’d discipline me very harshly and tell me it was for my own good, but in 50 years he was never able to say it. Even when I said it at the end of every phone call. Now, this is not strange. I know many people have grown up in this kind of environment. And many people have it many times worse than I had it. At least, I’m certain I was loved.

But, I’m wondering, what’s worse? a physically present but emotionally unavailable parent or a physically absent parent? I am reminded of this today simply because a client-friend of ours just forwarded me a link to a Canadian article saying that Presenteeism – when people are physically present but ‘not there’ – is costing Canada up to 3 times more than Absenteeism – when people are not there at all.


This is because their performance is impaired, the quality of work declines, they make errors and fall behind. I believe that, at last count, the same is true for Australia. It’s an important topic for workplaces when we are talking costs of billions of dollars per year, don’t you think?

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And then, there’s another aspect to this. Managers. What kind of a manager are you? are you a manager that suffers from management presenteeism? What I mean is, are you physically there for your staff but are you emotionally unreachable? I’ve met many managers that have been taught to be like that. They’ve been told to have ‘professional detachment’. What does that even mean? and how effective is that in a business world where your success depends on your ability to form relationships? And, more importantly, what do you think the impact of having professional detachment is on your team?

For all of you who grew up with emotionally unavailable parents, don’t repeat the same mistake. Be available and contribute meaningfully to each other.

Food for thought, right?

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organizations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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