Absenteeism in The Workplace: Discussing  Causes, Impacts And Strategies That Work

September 4, 2023

Absenteeism is one of the leading causes of poor productivity in the workplace. It is a stressful situation for both employers and other employees as it disturbs daily schedules, service delivery, and workload arrangements and increases business costs. 

Organisations need to find effective strategies and policies to help them manage and deal with absenteeism in the workplace because excessive absenteeism can reduce business profitability and overall success. Do you understand the possible causes of workplace absenteeism? Are you aware of the overall impacts that absenteeism has on your company? Or better yet, what measures are you currently using to manage workplace absenteeism? 

This article has working answers to all of these questions and more regarding dealing with absenteeism in the workplace.


What does absenteeism in the workplace mean? 

What are the causes of Employee Absenteeism? 

How does excessive absenteeism affect the workplace? 

How does the Hr calculate Absence rates? 

How to deal with absenteeism in the workplace. 


What Does Absenteeism in The Workplace Mean? 


What is absenteeism? 

Absenteeism in the workplace is when employees regularly miss work at their scheduled times without prior notice, Examples of legitimate reasons for being absent from work include sickness, family emergencies, or other personal reasons. Illegitimate reasons for employee absenteeism can include giving yourself a day off, or not showing up just because of a lack of motivation.

There are a few various types of absenteeism that can happen in the workplace. One type is called voluntary or scheduled absenteeism, whereby an employee opts to miss work for a reason that is not related to illness or emergencies. It can be a result of various factors, such as burnout, or deciding to take time off to do other personal stuff. Involuntary absenteeism is another type of absenteeism, whereby an employee is forced to not appear at work at their scheduled times due to an illness or family emergency. The other type of absenteeism is when an employee gets to work later than their appointed time, takes longer breaks or even leaves very early from work.

What are The Causes of Employee Absenteeism? 


Causes of Workplace Absenteeism 

Before you can search for strategies to combat absenteeism in the workplace, it is important to understand the root causes of employees’ absences from work. Several factors lead to workplace absenteeism. Some of these include:

  • Burnout
  • Mental health issues
  • Family emergencies 
  • Poor or toxic  working conditions 
  • Harassment in the workplace 
  • Low morale
  • Sickness or injury
  • Commuting Issues

How Does Excessive Absenteeism Affect The Workplace?


Impacts of Absenteeism in the Workplace 

Even though being absent for a day or two may seem harmless to some, it is worth noting that the impacts of absenteeism can be quite significant. Below are some of the impacts:

Reduced Productivity 

Absenteeism of one employee can disrupt the daily work routine, causing a reduction in productivity and service delivery. This is because there’ll be a need for shift rearrangements and reschedules as other employees would have to cover up for the absent team member by taking up their workload even though they also have theirs to deal with. This not only increases stress and pressure on the available employees but also reduces the quality of work hence leading to poor services and business losses. 

Increased Costs on the Organisation 

Absenteeism often results in financial losses and extra costs for the organisation as they may need to hire temporary helpers or even overtime wages to cover up the work left by the absent employees as well as any other necessary administrative costs. Absenteeism doesn’t only affect organisations, it also affects absent employees especially those that financially depend on commissions. 

Low Employee Morale

Continuous absenteeism may also cause additional stress to the absent employee because of the increased workload, missed paychecks and sometimes resentment from other employees. This may lower their morale and determination in their work hence, over time this demotivation may pass to other team members thereby affecting the overall performance and team spirit. 

Toxic Corporate Culture

In the long run, excessive absenteeism is bound to result in extra stress for the remaining team members. As such they too may begin resenting the absent employee for overwhelming them with extra workload or even resent the management for the frustration that may be brought by working with a constantly changing workforce. 

How Does The HR Calculate Absence Rates? 


how to calculate absentee rates 

In addition to managing employee well-being in the workplace, the HR department is also responsible for calculating absenteeism rates. They do this by dividing the number of absences of an individual employee by the total number of working days in a given period. This number is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage, which is why it is known as an absenteeism rate. 

For instance, if an employee has two unexcused absences throughout 20 workdays, to find out his absentee rate you’ll have to say:

2 absences over 20 working days

2 / 20 = 0.1

0.1 x 100 = 10% Absentee Rate

Additionally, HR can also calculate the overall absentee rate. For instance, if a company has 50 workers and there were a total of 100 absences for a year, then the overall absenteeism rate would be 50%. 

How to Combat Absenteeism in The Workplace


how to deal with absenteeism 

Various strategies or policies can be put in place to reduce or manage absenteeism in the workplace. These include:

  • Establishing a positive work environment. 
  • Promoting policies that improve employee physical and mental health. 
  • Offering flexible working hours
  • Encouraging a healthy work-life balance. 
  • Enhancing good communication between managers and employees. 
  • Use surveys and other methods to understand and track the causes of absenteeism.
  • Create an effective and clear absence policy. 
  • Reward good attendance. 

Alternatively, get in touch with the leave wizard to get professional help regarding managing absenteeism as well as any other effective employee management tips. 


What were the employee absence rates in the UK for the year 2022?

According to labour markets, the sickness absence rates in the UK rose to 2.6% for full-time workers and 3.7% for part-time employees. 

What are the recent statistics regarding the cost of Employee absence in the UK? 

According to the CDC, The average cost of employee absence per year, per employee, is £522.

Although it is normal to miss work from time to time for various reasons, being absent consistently is problematic and as such proactive measures have to be taken to manage absenteeism effectively, consequently ensuring that a healthy and positive work environment is maintained.