How to reduce absence in the workplace

Employee absence is one of the biggest problems that businesses in the UK face today, with employee health issues creating a staggering financial burden of £160 billion annually for British industry. While there are many different types of absence from work, it’s the unplanned absences that really hit employers where it hurts. With that in mind, it’s important to have strategies in place for reducing absence in the workplace. Below are a few recommendations from our team at GoodShape, the experts in reducing employee absence.

10 ways to reduce absence in the workplace

1. Set proper absence policies

Establishing proper absence policies is vital for managing attendance effectively and fairly within the workplace, ensuring that all employees understand the expectations and processes involved.

  • Clear guidelines: Develop and communicate clear absence policies that outline acceptable reasons for absence, reporting procedures and documentation requirements.
  • Consistent application: Apply policies consistently across the organisation to ensure fairness and transparency.
  • Supportive approach: Balance adherence to policies with a supportive approach to employees’ personal and health issues.

2. Train managers to deal with absence

Training managers to effectively handle absenteeism is essential for maintaining a consistent and fair approach to attendance. By equipping managers with absence management training, they can learn to identify early warning signs of absenteeism and engage in constructive conversations with employees about their attendance.

  • Absence management training: Train managers on how to handle absenteeism, including identifying early warning signs of frequent absenteeism and having constructive conversations about attendance.
  • Communication skills: Develop managers’ skills in empathetic communication to understand employee concerns and provide support.
  • Policy understanding: Ensure managers are well-versed in company absence policies and procedures so they can apply them consistently and fairly.

3. Promote employee wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is crucial for reducing absenteeism and fostering a productive, engaged workforce. By investing in employee wellbeing, employers can significantly enhance employees’ health and satisfaction.

  • Wellness programmes: Offer initiatives like fitness challenges, health screenings and mental health support.
  • Ergonomic workspaces: Ensure workstations are comfortable and support physical health.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Provide options for remote work or flexible hours to accommodate personal needs.

4. Monitor and manage absence

Monitoring and managing absences effectively is essential for maintaining workforce productivity and identifying underlying health issues. If you are not monitoring absence, it is less likely that you will be able to understand and address the causes for absence, resulting in slower return-to-work and more frequent absences.

  • Absence tracking: Use absence management software to track and analyse absence patterns.
  • Regular reviews: Conduct regular reviews of absence data to identify trends and areas for improvement.
  • Feedback: Feedback mechanisms should be established to gather employee input on absence management practices and adjust strategies accordingly, ensuring that policies remain relevant and supportive of employee needs.

5. Enhance the work environment

Creating a supportive and comfortable work environment is key to reducing absenteeism and enhancing employee satisfaction. By focusing on the physical workspace, health and safety measures and overall atmosphere, employers can foster a productive and positive environment that encourages regular attendance.

  • Break areas: Create relaxing spaces for employees to recharge.
  • Safety protocols: Maintain a clean, safe and hygienic work environment to prevent illness and accidents.
  • Recognition programmes: Implement recognition and rewards for good attendance.

6. Address workplace stressors

Stress can stem from various sources, including heavy workloads, unclear expectations, and interpersonal conflicts. By identifying and addressing these stressors, employers can create a more supportive work environment, improve employee wellbeing, and enhance overall job satisfaction.

  • Workload management: Ensure reasonable workloads and fair task distribution.
  • Clarity in roles and expectations: Maintaining transparency around roles, responsibilities and expectations can reduce stress by ensuring that employees understand their duties and goals.
  • Conflict resolution: Provide resources and training for resolving workplace conflicts effectively.

7. Provide support and resources

Providing access to various types of support ensures employees feel valued and equipped to handle personal and work-related challenges, thereby fostering a more resilient and committed workforce. GoodShape’s absence management software helps in this area by signposting to relevant support and resources at the time of absence reporting, which is when employees need them most.

  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs): Offer access to counselling and support for personal or work-related issues.
  • Training and development: Provide opportunities for skill development and career progression.
  • Access to healthcare advice: Providing resources or access to professionals who can help with any physical or mental issues being faced.

8. Improve employee engagement

Engaged employees are more likely to stay with their organisation, be more productive, and contribute positively to the company’s culture and goals.

  • Feedback mechanisms: Use surveys and meetings to gather employee feedback and make improvements.
  • Empower employees: Empowering employees involves giving them the autonomy and resources to take ownership of their work and make meaningful contributions.
  • Career development: Support employees’ career goals to enhance job satisfaction and reduce absenteeism.

9. Encourage work-life balance

A balanced approach allows employees to fulfil both their professional responsibilities and personal needs effectively, leading to higher productivity, engagement and retention.

  • Paid time off: Offer generous leave policies to prevent burnout and promote wellbeing.
  • Family leave: Provide options for parental or elder care leave.
  • Respecting personal time: Encourage employees to disconnect from work outside of office hours, including not checking emails or answering work calls.

10. Improve return-to-work interviews and setups

Return-to-work (RTW) interviews and setups are crucial processes for reintegrating employees into the workplace after a period of absence. These practices ensure that returning employees feel supported, address any ongoing issues, and facilitate a smooth transition back to their roles.

  • Conduct interviews: Hold return-to-work interviews with employees to discuss their experience, reasons for absence, and any ongoing issues.
  • Assess needs: Evaluate whether the employee needs any adjustments, such as flexible working hours, reduced workload or additional support.
  • Reintegration plans: Develop personalised reintegration plans that may include phased returns, temporary changes in duties, or additional training to ease the transition back to work.

GoodShape helps to reduce employee absenteeism

GoodShape is designed to help facilitate all of the above, helping you to track absenteeism, ensure policies are adhered to, engage employees and encourage a positive return-to-work experience. If you’re serious about reducing absence in the workplace, contact our team today to find out how GoodShape can help.

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