7 Tips to Reduce Employee Absence

Sickness absence has a huge impact on your company’s profitability. Therefore, it is in your interest to determine the reasons for absenteeism and how this can be prevented. Find below 7 ways to reduce employee absence.

Sickness absence has a huge impact on your company’s profitability. If employees get sick, their tasks have to be assigned to other employees or in the worst-case scenario, the project has to be frozen. Therefore, it is in the interest of every company to determine the reasons for absenteeism and how this can be prevented. Studies conducted by the Bureau of Labour Statistics showed that in 2014 sprains and strains accounted for 420.870 sick days. They required an average of 10 sick days, while fractures an average of 32 sick days. Musculoskeletal injuries, (mostly related with back pain) accounted for about 29% of all workplace injuries and costed an average $ 15.000. In the UK, one of the top five leading causes of short-term (55%) and long-term absences (63%) is workplace stress (source: Chartered Institute of Personnel Development CIDP). Among the top causes of short-term absences were minor illnesses like colds, flu, stomach upsets, headaches and migraines. One million UK workers take sick leave every week. In 2013, 15,2 million sick days were due to mental ill-health, often stress-induced which is often a cause of underlying issues such as depression and anxiety. Managing absenteeism can be a helpful measure in understanding the reasons for sick leave in the workplace. Furthermore, the effective management of illness related absenteeism reduces sick leave time and puts an end to stress-induced illness. The task for HR managers, entrepreneurs and executives is to understand how to improve occupational health and employ preventative methods for the most common causes of sick leave.

1. Manage and analyse work absences

Before launching prevention measures, understand the causes of sickness absence and determine the most common symptoms and influencing factors:

  • What kinds of illnesses constantly occur in your team/company?
  • What conclusions can you draw?
  • Are there any trigger or influencing factors which cause or determine the sickness?
  • How can you minimise these triggers?

If there is no company doctor to help you find the symptoms, call a medical insurance company. They can offer you tips and information on workplace health management.

2. Carefully choose your staff

Some illnesses are psychosomatic and are often due to frustration, demotivation, mental underload or simply bad working atmosphere. As a manager you can influence this directly just by carefully selecting your personnel or team members for your project team:

  • Are the social skills and values of the prospective employee a good fit to your business?
  • Which employee is the best candidate for the task?
  • Is the employee under- or over-challenged?
  • What are the employee career goals and does it entail a promotion?
  • Is every team member successfully integrated?

The goal: Satisfied employees take fewer sick days!

3. Create flexible working hours

Flexible work schedules take care of the employee’s personal rhythm and foster productivity. Work-life balance is important for aligning private and professional needs. Flexible working raises employee motivation and satisfaction and reduces stress – which in turn reduces absenteeism.

4. Improve the workplace


  • Ergonomic conditions.
  • Lighting conditions.
  • Noise disturbance.
  • Indoor climate.
  • Dissatisfaction due to odours or gases, for example through printers or other devices.

Once in a while, review the above points and track any weaknesses paying attention to any employee complaints.

5. Talk with employees who:

  • Have often and only short-term absences. The aim is to determine the cause of such absences.
  • Return after long-term absences. You can make their integration into the team easier Discussions should reveal the reasons for any absences and also give you an idea of potential solutions. You will need empathy, try to avoid communicating any suspicious or threatening behaviour.

6. Strengthen team spirit

Raise awareness for absenteeism instead of explaining the negative effects on your business, sensitise your employees on a team level:

    • Absence time affects the whole team.
    • Absence time means more work for colleagues.
    • Absence time obstructs projects progress.

7. Utilise Software

Software can be used to proactively manage employee health and wellbeing through a variety of different methods. It allows for quick and easy adoption and packages such as Microbreak allow health and wellbeing to be managed through one platform. This can be extremely cost effective and brings a host of benefits, such as:

  • Proactively manage Ergonomic issues.
  • Proactively Reduce employee stress.
  • Reduce preventable work placed absence.
  • Improve employee productivity.

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