Absenteeism at Work

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Health Assured team

27 June 2019

Do you have an employee who seems never to be around?

One that’s conveniently sick every Monday, or has many unplanned days off? That’s absenteeism—meaning someone who habitually avoids work with no reason.

It’s a serious issue. Studies estimate a cost of almost £600 per employee, per year as a result. There are many different potential causes—the absentee could suffer low morale. They may not be enjoying the job. The environment could be chipping away at their mental health. There are countless potential reasons. And not everyone knows how to address them, or how to reduce absenteeism.

How do I know how much absenteeism is in my workplace?

There’s a (fairly) simple absenteeism formula you can use to calculate the percentage of absenteeism and sickness absenteeism in your workplace.

(number of unexcused absences)/period of days) x 100=% of absenteeism

Ideally, you want this number to be as low as possible. The higher it gets, the more you might have to think about terminating an employee for excessive absenteeism, which isn’t something anyone wants to do.

What are the causes of absenteeism?

It’s different for everyone. But some common causes are:

  • Illness and injury: specifically when the absence isn’t reported beforehand
  • Bullying: no-one wants to spend time in a place with their aggressor
  • Lack of engagement: boredom and dissatisfaction are distracting
  • Childcare issues: these can be unpredictable
  • Stress: along with anxiety, a major cause of absence
  • Burnout: working too hard can backfire

What can I do about absenteeism?

Of course, if your percentages of absenteeism are high, you’re going to want to tackle that. Similarly to the causes, there’s no one way of knowing how to reduce absenteeism at work. But there are a few things you can do:

  • Measure it: keep a record of unauthorised absences, and highlight it to managers
  • Offer flexibility: if people know they can take the working patterns they need, absenteeism falls
  • Have a clear absence policy: if your policy is unclear, people might take advantage
  • Be understanding: not all unplanned absence is malicious—take into account genuine reasons

If you’ve taken all the steps you can and someone is still persistently absent with no justification, you may need to take harsher measures. Acas is an invaluable resource, which can take you through the steps of disciplining staff for any reason, and they provide a useful written warning template for absenteeism.

Get Expert advice

If you’d like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on 0844 892 2493.

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