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6 Must Know Tips To Reduce Absenteeism

Employee Wellbeing
November 2, 2021
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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reports that workplace employee absenteeism is on the decline in the UK, but employees are still missing an average of 5.9 days per year. With trends like remote working on the rise and shifting work environments, many companies are focused on finding ways to reduce absenteeism. 

They’re doing so for good reason because employee absenteeism costs businesses millions of pounds.

Employers have a key role to play in this and can enact measures that work to reduce absenteeism. One of the biggest factors that causes employee absenteeism is mental health. 

Keep reading to see how employers can play a big part in helping to shape and support positive mental health and reduce absenteeism.

What is Absenteeism at Work?

Employee absenteeism extends beyond what is seen as an acceptable amount of days away from the office for legitimate reasons, such as scheduled holidays, occasional illness, and family emergencies.

This can affect workflows and causes detrimental outcomes for organisations. This is especially true in companies where there are key person dependencies, which means that one person is required to be available in order to carry out a process or task. 

Employee absenteeism not only causes financial strains and workflow inefficiencies within a business, but it also can affect other team members and the individual who was absent themself. 

Team members may have to carry heavier workloads to make up for the person that’s missing, which could lead to resentment and anger. The employee who is absent will also likely suffer enhanced stress when they return to work as they must make up for the backlog, as well as any income they may have lost. 

How to Measure Absenteeism at Work?

To measure absenteeism at work, you can utilise the following formula which is based on taking the number of unexcused absences in a certain time period, dividing it by the total time period, and multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage. The time period can be a month, year, or quarter, for example. 

What is the Absenteeism Rate Formula?

The absenteeism rate formula is as follows: 

(# of unexcused absences / total period) x 100 = % of absenteeism 

Of course, any business would hope that the result is zero, but that’s going to be highly unlikely and improbable. However, businesses can take proactive steps in creating work environments and nurturing self-motivated employees in order to reduce the rate of absenteeism. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but there are surely good measures to manage this issue. 

Before we touch on how to resolve employee absenteeism, it’s very useful to find out what causes it in the first place. 

What Causes Employee Absenteeism?

There are a variety of causes for employee absenteeism, so when you notice it with an individual, it’s always recommended to find out the specific reason, if possible. 

Whether that’s doable or not, wellbeing platforms can also be used to offer deep insights and potentially prevent absenteeism before it occurs (we’ll get to how shortly). 

Before that, let’s look at some common reasons for absenteeism: 

1. Poor Mental Health

In a survey, 57.3% of employees listed ill health as a reason for their absence from work. While physical health such as colds, flus, stomach viruses, and headaches could cause an employee to stay home, mental health is a more silent, but equally impactful cause. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, anxiety, depression, and social anxiety may account for as many as 70 million missed work days each year in the UK. Employers’ decisions affect employees’ mental health. 

To positively enhance employees’ experience at work, you can deploy a wellbeing platform that provides a place for employees to increase their awareness around their emotions and mind’s health.

By enabling this increased awareness and self-diagnosis, employees can improve their own mental health and employers can gauge the real-time mood of employees. This way, employers can identify which teams, offices, locations, need further support so the organisation can take preventative actions rather than just reacting. 

As such, it helps to pinpoint where management must focus their efforts and work to avoid potential future absenteeism. 

2. Harassment 

Aside from mental health, one of the most common reasons why employees miss work is because they are being bullied or harassed in the workplace. 

These situations are typically under the surface and undetectable, unless an employee actively reports the issue. 

The best thing to overcome harassment is to provide a safe environment for employees to report these issues to their managers, and a safe and compassionate protocol for dealing with it and protecting the employee during the investigation.

3. Burnout and Stress

People who constantly take on more than they can reasonably handle  are likely to suffer from burnout, which is proven to lead to mental health issues, and physical health issues. Their immunity suffers as they lack adequate sleep and are therefore more prone to falling ill. 

4. Family or Personal Reasons 

There are many personal reasons or familial reasons that can cause an employee to call out of work, including: lack of childcare, having the responsibility to care for elderly family members, hospital appointments, etc. 

5. Low Morale 

When employees lack autonomy or feel unmotivated, they may call in sick because they simply can’t face showing up to work. A wellbeing platform provides HR and management with a real-time understanding of employee mood before it impacts productivity and performance. 

Why is Absenteeism a Problem?

The effects of absenteeism in the workplace span several negative consequences, from the financial to the personal to the brand overall. 

We’ve already touched on the potential financial losses that an organisation suffers from employee absenteeism. If it’s an organisational issue, then the company will face the continuous risk of subpar performance, or at worst, many absent workers at the same time. 

Additionally, organisations have to pay the cost of replacing workers and administrative costs of dealing with necessary paperwork to document the absent employee. 

Workplace morale is prone to drop when a member of a team is consistently unavailable. Employees typically work together and are fueled by one another’s drive and motivation. When a single member of a team is out or displaying low morale, everyone’s productivity is at risk of being depleted. 

If an employee is consistently absent from work, they may be losing their overall motivation to perform their job as best as they can. This can trickle down to negatively affect the customer experience and could even indirectly end up causing customer churn. Customer churn leads to decreased brand loyalty and a harmed reputation. Ultimately, all of these factors can disrupt the business’ bottom line. 

Consistent absenteeism can also result in an employee leaving, which increases the costs for hiring, results in the loss of key skills, and disrupts performance. Rather than running this risk, organisations can actively support employees (and primarily their mental health) by incorporating an employee wellbeing platform. This can help to reduce employee turnover in the long run.

by Jud Mackrill from Unsplash

How Can We Reduce Absenteeism?

There are several strategies that can work to help reduce employee absenteeism. While they can all work in tandem with one another, it’s possible to roll out these methods over time. 

Here’s a look at some ideas: 

1. Create a Rewards and Recognition Programme 

Rewards and recognition programmes can provide a huge uptick in employee retention levels. In fact, a survey conducted by Achievers that included 1,700 respondents found that 69% of respondents would be encouraged to remain at a company if they had improved rewards and recognition. 

Rewards and recognition programmes help to keep employees engaged and motivated. When employees are noticed for their good work, they are more likely and willing to be engaged (rather than not show up). 

2. Provide Consistent Feedback 

Along with rewards and recognition, it’s vital to provide consistent feedback to your employees. This means that when there is an issue or room for improvement, employees won’t feel attacked for it being brought up. 

Instead, they will be in the habit of receiving both good, bad, and purely constructive feedback in order to improve upon their work. 

3. Enhance Employee Wellbeing 

Focusing on creating a workplace that prioritises employee wellbeing and mental health can prove to be one of the most powerful ways to reduce employee absenteeism. 

This is clear because of the sheer numbers and statistics of employees who are absent from work because of stress, anxiety, or mental health issues. In fact, 51% of UK employees surveyed commissioned by Lime Insurance reported that they feel the need to hide mental health issues at work. 

Instead, employers can help to alleviate these issues by implementing a wellbeing platform that supports workers. 

Wellbeing platforms offer a multitude of benefits, including: 

  • providing employees with supporting resources on mental health to boost awareness without having to spends days away the office
  • self-diagnosis tools to better understand and manage  their personal and professional life 
  • offering real-time understanding of employee mood so that management can take preventive measures to support and aid employees. 

Thus, the tools provide solutions that help to keep employees supported, motivated and happy, which results in maximised performance and productivity and lower absenteeism. 

4. Set Attendance Expectations 

An employee absence every now and again is practically inevitable. As such, it’s important to have a proper procedure in place and standards set for how absent employees should go about reporting their missed time. 

The policy should also lay out the repercussions of missing repeated days. To ensure that all employees are aware of what they are agreeing to, ask your staff to sign this policy. This way, everyone is aligned with expectations and has an understanding of the attendance policy.

5. Offer Paid Leave 

Employees, after all, are humans. And, humans need a break or mental release every now and again. To support employees’ in being their best, devise a sufficient paid time-off policy that allows your team members to unplug and recharge. 

When employees have the option to take time off without suffering negative consequences, they’ll be less likely to do so unless there is good reason. Employers can also set up yearly retreats or team strengthening experiences so that the overall morale is maintained. 

6. Explore Flexible Schedules 

Numerous studies have shown that people who work from home tend to be more productive. In fact, studies have shown that those who work from home are on average 47% more productive than their peers who are in an office all the time. 

While it may not be the case for everyone, some people certainly do perform better from home, or at least by having the option of a flexible schedule. While it seems counterintuitive, allowing your workers to work from home may actually result in lower rates of absenteeism in the “workplace.” 

Naturally, absenteeism doesn’t need to refer to the physical space in which one works. Instead, it is with regard to how someone shows up to do the job that is expected of them. So, if they are happy and productive working from home, or even with a hybrid schedule (a mix of office and home time), then it could be a good potential solution. 

Wrap Up

Employee absenteeism is a problem for several organisations, but as you can see, there are a variety of ways to reduce absenteeism. At the top of the list, it’s always most important to ensure that your employees’ mental health and wellbeing are being properly supported. 

When one’s mental health slips, it ends up affecting all aspects of life, including their physical health and outlook on personal and professional matters. You can use employee wellbeing tools to help manage, monitor, and support employees’ mental health in a proactive way.  

When you are able to reduce employee absenteeism at an organisational level, your business has the potential to increase profits, enhance employee satisfaction, and support a thriving workplace. 

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