Managing absenteeism in the workplace

Managing Absence


Absenteeism in the workplace can be caused by a number of factors. From illness and stress to social and financial worries. In fact, UK workers take four million days off a year due to financial concerns alone[1] and with absent workers costing UK businesses £1.6 billion every year[2], it is fast becoming a real problem for employers.

There are a number of steps which companies can take in order to reduce the pressure of absenteeism. Here, we will look at some of the common causes of absenteeism and how to tackle them.


Bullying and harassment

Most of us have been the target of some form of bullying at different points in our lives, whether it was in the playground or a friend who belittles you. But when bullying manifests in the workplace, it can cause upset and distress to the individual, not to mention it can lead to a wider toxic atmosphere across the office. Individuals being bullied will try and distance themselves from the situation and that can mean avoiding coming into work completely.

The best way to help prevent absenteeism in an individual being bullied is by making anti-bullying and harassment policies clear across your organisation. Inform staff what is and is not acceptable behaviour in the workplace and who they should turn to if they feel they are being targeted. Ensure your HR team are equipped to offer a friendly, confidential and approachable service to staff, so employees feel they can talk to someone within the organisation who can help.




Sickness bugs, colds and flu are an unavoidable part of office life, especially in the winter months. Although many offices allocate a number of days each year for sickness, unprecedented, continued sick leave by staff can have a detrimental effect on company productivity. So, what can you do?


Introducing wellness programmes to the workplace can help staff keep fit and healthy, which in turn can reduce the number of illnesses. Benefits such as free fruit in the office and discounted gym memberships for employees encourages staff to look after themselves and work harder for the company.


Workplace incentives can also help to improve employee attendance. Benefits such as flexible working or flexible start and finish times are cost-effective and relatively simple to introduce to a company’s structure – not to mention, they are believed to help reduce workplace stress.[3]


Disengagement with the role


Sometimes employees can lose motivation for their jobs and begin to feel disengaged with the role they play, their co-workers and the company itself. This can lead to workers becoming so demotivated they begin to miss days at work and fall behind on projects.


To avoid staff becoming disengaged, it is important for line managers and senior staff to have comprehensive training in order to spot demotivation and a lack of enthusiasm in work. The sooner senior members can spot unhappy staff, the sooner any dissatisfaction with the role/company can be identified and addressed accordingly.


Financial Wellbeing


With such a significant number of UK workers taking days off to deal with financial matters, it is important for employers to take financial concerns of staff seriously. Ensure that staff are aware that they can speak to managers regarding financial worries and make sure that workers understand company or government allowances they could benefit from, such as childcare vouchers, life insurance or pension schemes.



Contact the professionals


If you have a problem with absenteeism in your company or are concerned staff are being bullied, abusing sick leave or causing issues related to demotivation – then please visit the services page of our website, to find out how we can help.







Debbie McCordall

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