Staff sickness and injury not only affect the individual but also creates problems with meeting deadlines and schedules as well as maintain productivity

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Sickness absence has remained a focus for employers throughout the years, and it seems this has paid off to some level as the latest Office of National Statistics figures reveal that in 2016, in the UK, only 4.3 days per worker were lost due to sickness whereas this was 7.2 days lost per worker when records began in 1993.

Although progress has been made in reducing sickness absence, when you scale up the 4.3 days per year across the UK, this reveals a staggering 137.3 million working days were lost in 2016.

The results are just as worrying when translated to a monetary value. According to Personnel Today, the cost of staff sickness to employers is on average £16 billion a year.

Gemma Harding, head of corporate services at CALLCARE has compiled a list of five top tips of 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.