The effects, causes and management strategies of absenteeism

by Danique Geskus | Nov 17, 2023

In this blog, we discuss the impact of absenteeism, its main causes, and share management strategies to address it.


Meaning absenteeism

Sick leave refers to the period during which an employee is unable to work due to health problems or illness. This can range from short absences of a few days to prolonged periods of absence, depending on the nature and severity of the health problems. It can have a significant impact on both the employee and the employer, as it can lead to loss of productivity, additional costs to the employer and negative effects on the employee’s health and well-being. Controlling and minimizing absenteeism is therefore a major concern for organizations and can be addressed through occupational health policies and employee support.

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Impact of absenteeism

Absenteeism can have a significant impact on an organization. It leads to decreased productivity, increased workload for colleagues, and can even affect overall business results. Moreover, long-term absenteeism can lead to additional costs, such as replacement costs for temporary employees and medical expenses. For employees, it can lead to stress, loss of income and negative career consequences.


The main causes

There are numerous causes, ranging from physical health problems to mental illness. Some common causes include:

    • Physical health problems: illnesses, injuries or chronic conditions can lead to short- or long-term absences.
    • Mental health problems: stress, depression, and anxiety disorders are common factors in sick leave.
    • Work-related causes: an unsafe work environment, high workload or conflicts in the workplace can cause absenteeism.
    • Life events: personal events such as grief, divorce or family problems can lead to absenteeism.


Management strategies for sick leave

Managing effectively requires a holistic approach. Here are some strategies to reduce and manage absenteeism:

    • Prevention: commit to prevention by investing in a healthy work environment, stress management programs and health promotion initiatives.
    • Absence policy: develop a clear absence policy that informs employees of procedures and expectations regarding sick leave.
    • Health promotion: provides programs and resources that promote employees’ physical and mental health, such as fitness facilities and counseling.
    • Flexibility: consider flexible work arrangements such as working from home or modified work hours to support employees with personal challenges.
    • Return policy: implement a structured return policy to seamlessly reintegrate employees back into the work process after sick leave.
    • Monitoring and analysis: track absence data and analyze trends to identify and address problems early.
    • Communication: ensure open and honest communication with employees to encourage them to report problems in a timely manner and provide support.

Effective sick leave management is vital to employee health and the success of organizations. A healthy and supportive work environment, combined with proactive policies, can help minimize the impact of absenteeism and promote job satisfaction and productivity.

Learned Engagement Software Platform UI with an area graph of employee engagement

With Learned, you implement continuous short MTOs with a few questions per week in the same time as an annual Employee happiness survey. This way you keep real-time insight into your employee engagement throughout the year and see the effect of your HR initiatives immediately.

Explanatory image: In this example, you can see the power of ongoing short Employee happiness surveys. Due to a negative situation in April, you see a sharp drop in employee engagement in May. Frequent measurements allow you to take immediate action on this.


Keep your employees engaged and sustainably employable with Learned

Absenteeism impacts your entire organization. Thus, it is important to understand this in time. With Learned’s Survey module, you can continuously monitor aspects such as employee engagement and act accordingly. This allows your organization to quickly identify trends and patterns.

In addition, Learned offers an e-guide to understand employee engagement within your organization. Download our FREE e-guide on “real-time insight into your high performers’ employee engagement” to discover how to measure, interpret and improve engagement so you retain the best talent and save costs.

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Real-time insight into employee engagement

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