Tackling Absenteeism in the Office

Tackling Absenteeism in the Office


Absenteeism in the workplace causes a variety of problems such as overworked employees, loss of productivity and a decreased profit for the company. And yet, with absences so often unavoidable, how can HR tackle the problem to make everyone's lives easier?

Be more Flexible

It can be difficult for employees to fit in all of their commitments such as childcare, looking after an elderly relative, or moving house around strict working hours, and this can often lead to staff being untruthful about sickness in order to manage other aspects of their life.

There are several ways in which employers can avoid this happening:

  • Implement flexible working hours where employees work a set number of hours but choose the times they come in, for example 8 hours a day between 7am and 7pm.
  • Ensure that employees know that it is acceptable to take time off for unavoidable commitments as long as they let you know in advance (except for in an emergency). This way you will be able to plan for their absence and ensure that other staff are prepared to cover their work.
  • Allow employees to work from home – This could be beneficial to employees who struggle with a long commute or have to take care of a child or sick relative.


Alternatively, If it’s a busy period for the company then you could suggest that they make up the time by coming in an hour early or late one day or by taking a slightly shorter lunch break for a week.

Outline a Clear Policy and Stick to it

Ensure your employees are familiar with your absence policy from Day 1 of their employment. This includes outlining how many absences you will allow before you give them a formal warning or terminate their contract, and the circumstances under which an exception to this rule will be granted, e.g. a long term medical condition, hospitalisation, bereavement etc.

It’s also important to let them know what time they should call in sick by so that you have adequate time to prepare for their absence and delegate their work to other employees.

Once you’ve informed staff members about the absence policy, you need to make sure that you consistently apply it to all employees. If staff see others being let off their unnecessary absences then they’re more likely to lose the motivation to come into work regularly themselves.

Increase holiday allowance

This doesn’t have to be dramatic. Simply a few extra days to relax and spend time with family and friends will improve employee well-being and prevent problems such as burnout, stress and depression. Employees are also more likely to feel appreciated if employers respect their need to have a life outside of the office.


For more on staff wellbeing try our blogs on workplace burnout and incorporating exercise into the working day.