Absenteeism is damaging to the workplace-that is a fact. It is important that you understand how to solve absenteeism.

It can erode a positive culture, damage staff morale, increase the pressure and stress of the whole department, and even decrease the quality of your goods or services.

Not to mention it is expensive! Having to put cover in place by paying overtime or bringing in agency staff is not cheap, and often you are still paying the person off sick.

If you have a small team, the impact of one person persistently being of is enormous and can be very detrimental to your productivity and bottom line.

Fortunately, there are 6 steps you can take to solve absenteeism and prevent it becoming an entrenched issue.

1) Have an effective absence recording system


If you don’t know for definite who is off, why, and when it can be hard to spot a pattern and solve absenteeism.

It might be that you have noticed someone in accounts has the last Friday of every month off, but without an absence recording system or method you won’t know if he is calling in sick with a stomach bug every time, or if he legitimately has a regular appointment set up.

Or, maybe a few staff members are complaining that someone in logistics is always off sick, but the data actually shows she has only had a couple of days off all year and with good reason. This would indicate a wider problem within logistics.

Whether you are in a large or small organisation, a proper absence recording system makes it much easier to keep track of your staff members.

empty desks to represent blog on how to solve absenteeism

2) Increase flexibility in work hours


If your staff are having time off to attend appointments or look after family members a more flexible working day could be the solution.

This is especially true if your staff members are having to lie about needing the time of and so are having the whole day off with a stomach bug, rather than half a day for an appointment.

Even if you can’t introduce flexitime, allowing staff to work back hours or take their lunch when they need might give them the flexibility they need and help you solve absenteeism.


3) Have a clearly communicated absence policy


Do your staff know what constitutes as absenteeism in your organisation? Do they know the consequences of having too many instances of absence?

Do you count the number of days off as each instance of absence, or the actual unbroken time a person is off for?

Having all this clearly written down and understood by all staff will go a long way towards solving absenteeism.

4) Examine the causes of absenteeism

image of desks with lights strewn across for blog by Wellspace on solving absenteeismMake sure you don’t fall into the trap of accusing everyone who has a high level of absence of being work shy, as it is unlikely this is true.

There are all sorts of reasons for absenteeism, some of which can be solved in house:

  • Bullying or harassment in the workplace
  • Disclosed or undisclosed mental or physical health issues
  • Personal issues
  • Job seeking
  • Job dissatisfaction and disengagement
  • Stress or burnout through presenteeism

Identifying the cause means you can take steps to solve absenteeism. Start by having a conversation with the relevant staff.


5) Be reasonable with what constitutes absenteeism


Some workplaces do not tolerate absences as well as others.

The average employee in the UK has 5.6 days off a year. If you are benchmarking under this, you may be being a tiny bit unreasonable.

Your staff and their dependents will get ill. It is unavoidable. Yes, it has an impact on the rest of the business, but as this blog post points out on Absenteeism VS Presenteeism, presenteeism is just as damaging as absenteeism.

Try relaxing your expectations a bit and you might find that you have solved absenteeism by just tweaking the statistics!


6) Look after their wellbeing


Healthy employees have fewer absences, and staff who feel valued are more motivated and engaged.

Having an effective health and wellbeing programme achieves both and solves absenteeism in the most part.

An effective health and wellbeing solution will combine data with training and encouragement to motivate staff to look after their physical and mental wellbeing in and out the workplace.


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If you are interested in learning more about effective health and wellbeing solutions, you can get in touch with us on info@yourwellspace.com or fill in the contact form here.