What can managers do to effectively address employee absences?

  29th September 2017       Private: Bond Williams
 Recruitment, CIPD, Employment, Human Resources, IT & Software Solutions, Office & Commercial

The latest research from Office of National Statistics reveals that, on average in 2016 there were just 4.3 days lost per worker due to sickness or injury in the UK. This is the lowest recorded figure since records began in 1993, when it was at 7.2 days.

However these four days a year added up across up across the country means an astounding 137.3 million working days were lost. There are certain organisations and demographics that are responsible for significantly higher levels. These include:


Older workers

Those with long-term health conditions and smokers

Workers in Wales and Scotland

Public-sector workers and those working in the largest organisations (those with 500 or more employees)

If you translate this into the cost to UK business, the results are shocking. So what can you do about it? Gemma Harding, Head of Corporates Services at CALLCARE collected her top tips to what managers can do to effectively address employee absences:

Gather hard data

Absenteeism is not just about individuals: it’s about how unplanned leave affects your organisation as a whole. You need to know the scale of the problem and be able to identify if there are organisational issues that affect it.

Look for patterns in terms of timings or groupings of absence

Identify when increases occurred and review other organisational changes at the time

Are there types of workers particularly prone to absence or departments particularly affected?

Start reviewing cultures rather than people

Wilmar Scaufeli pinpoints in the Journal of Organisational Behaviour that increases in job demands directly influence absenteeism. He also notes that decreases in job resources, such as feedback and learning opportunities, are causally related.

Particularly where stress at work, or at home, has led to absences, implementing flexible working (such as unpaid leave, different hours and days working from home) can help.

Encourage your management team to review working practices and introduce training and support where required

Consider a more flexible approach to working patterns

Develop a clear absenteeism policy

It’s important to be clear about exactly what is acceptable and what support is on offer.

Detail how many absences are acceptable in a given period of time

Document acceptable reasons for absence

Describe the support offered to help address increases in absences

Delineate consequences for violating the policy

Address issues at an individual level

While absenteeism is not all about the individual, it must also be addressed at this level.

Meet with the employee and discuss possible solutions

Offer support, training and flexibility if required

Document every meeting in writing

If things still do not improve, issue a verbal warning and ensure this is also documented

Any written warning issued should be signed by the employee and placed in their personnel file

Start thinking creatively

Thinking outside the box opens up a whole new world of potential solutions.

Outsourcing can often relieve the strain on your staff. Offering intelligent outsourcing can help businesses maintain productivity without the stress.

Taking in all above advice can ensure a healthy relationship between managers and employees in communicating and dealing with absence issues.


Private: Bond Williams


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