How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace

How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace. It is a typical occurrence that workplace absenteeism costs the economy billions annually. 

The availability of the workforce and the profitability of organizations are both impacted by absenteeism, commonly known as a “bottom-line killer.” How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace.

This guide will examine absenteeism’s definition, common causes, and effects. How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace.

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Absenteeism: What is it? An explanation

When a worker frequently avoids work without good reason, it is considered absenteeism in the workplace. The productivity, financial health, and morale of the team can all suffer from excessive employee absences. Employers in the United States incur annual costs of billions of dollars due to employee absenteeism, which has been shown to be a serious issue.

Let’s begin by defining employee absenteeism, also known as workplace absence. No matter the reason, absenteeism is defined as any failure to arrive at or stay at work as scheduled. This typically happens unexpectedly, such as when someone is sick, but it can also be intentional, like during a strike or deliberate absence.

The fact that the person was expected to work is what makes this term work. This means that absences for vacation, personal leave, jury duty, or other reasons are not considered to be absenteeism. Absence, illness, skipping work, and taking leave are all common synonyms for absenteeism.

The most popular method for measuring absenteeism at work is the absenteeism rate. This ratio is calculated by dividing the total number of missed workdays by the total number of workdays in a particular period. An important HR metric is the absenteeism rate. For instance, excessive absenteeism may be a sign of organizational or personal issues.

How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace

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The Effects of Absenteeism at Workplace

The workplace may suffer greatly from absenteeism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), productivity losses due to absenteeism cost billions a year. 

According to research conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, the cost of employee absenteeism in Europe might amount to almost 2.5% of GDP. In the European Union alone, this would result in an absenteeism cost of $470 billion, more than twice as much as it is in the US.

If we dig deeper into the figures, we will see that the cost of absence includes more than just the expense of hiring a replacement for the absent employee. It also includes the lost productivity caused by this replacement, as well as the lost productivity of coworkers and supervisors.

According to a global survey by SHRM, productivity loss ranges from 22.6 percent for scheduled leave to 36.6 percent for unplanned absence. Due to chores such as managing absenteeism, modifying procedures, and taking over some duties, the supervisor’s productivity dropped by 15.7 percent.

On a personal level, high absenteeism can result in income loss, a lack of discipline, accidents when a person returns to a less familiar work environment, and job impressions might alter as a result of the employee developing an excuse or justification for their absence. The individual may be affected, but also their coworkers, workgroup, organization, family, and even society may be.

Nurses are a prime illustration of how absence affects society. Compared to other professions, nurses frequently exhibit higher levels of absence due to their high levels of stress. This has a very real effect on society because there are less people who can care for people.

Absence could also be advantageous. The person can unwind while having less tension. Coworkers benefit from greater employment variety, the chance to pick up new skills, and the ability to get paid overtime for extra labour. The knowledge base is increased for workgroups and organisations, and the unit becomes more adaptable in responding to absence, making it simpler to replace the absent worker.

How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace
How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace

Benchmark for Absenteeism

Before hearing into the various reasons for absence, let’s establish a benchmark for absenteeism. Even though they are fun to show, figuring out these factors tells you more about why countries have different rates of absence.

For the US and the EU, there is a wealth of trustworthy absence data. In contrast to the European Union, where the absence rate is roughly 4.7 percent, the United States has a 2.8 percent absence rate. In Canada, the average rate of workforce absenteeism is 3.5 percent, with 3.1 percent in the private sector and 5.1 percent in the public sector (Conference Board of Canada, 2015).

Which Absence Rate is Ideal?

To figure out what a good absence rate is, we have to tell the difference between being sick and being absent for other reasons.

Illness-related absence cannot be avoided. Every few years, the flu strikes all of us. When this happens, the only place we can recover is at home. This means that even while individual absence behaviors can vary, on a collective level, we can quickly determine whether absence in an organization is due to illness or to other causes.

As a general rule, illness accounts for 1.5% of total absences. This indicates that 4 workdays are typically missed each year due to illness. This has been observed both at work and in schools.

Therefore, anything above this 1.5 percent generalization is probably due to causes other than disease. Personal problems, high levels of stress at work, a strained relationship with the immediate manager, or other workplace challenges might all fall under this category. 

This does not imply that the employee is to blame. It’s possible that the worker is confined to a stressful position with insufficient tools to perform the job well. The majority of absences above 1.5%, though, can be avoided.

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why people don’t turn up for work and factors that contribute to high absentee rates.

Absenteeism Measurement

This study demonstrates the complexity and breadth of the issue of absenteeism. One of the most intriguing findings is that the higher the potential cost of missing work, the less likely people are to miss work. 

There are no Gender Distinctions

Additionally, there is a gender imbalance in absenteeism. Women are more likely to miss work than men are. This has sociological and physiological components. For instance, when children are ill, the mother frequently stays at home to care for the children. It normally doesn’t take long for this to result in a higher absence frequency.

Drug Abusers

Abuse of drugs and alcohol is another factor in absenteeism. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, employees who admitted to abusing prescription medications were roughly 7% more likely to report missing work in the previous month (a 200–300% increase over the usual absence levels).

High-risk drinkers were up to 22 times more likely to miss work than low-risk drinkers, and they were also more likely to suffer accidents, illnesses, and injuries.


The prevalence of diabetes is increasing nationwide. Diabetes-related productivity loss is thought to have cost the economy in billions. This loss has increased globally upto 2022. Time lost from work because of illness, being at work when they shouldn’t be, or even retiring early are all signs of lost productivity.


Depression has a significant impact on people all around the world. According to estimates, depression affects 9.66 percent each year.


Another element that affects absence is age. The chance of unnecessary absence decreases with age. Their absences have become less frequent as a result. But as people get older, they are more likely to get chronic diseases, which makes their absences longer.

How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace
How to Deal with Absenteeism in Workplace

13 Successful Anti-Absentee Measures

According to the studies we previously covered, there are various frequent causes of absence. Absenteeism at work can be cut down by interventions or HR policies that reduce the negative effects.

Increasing the opportunity cost of not working is frequently the aim of many of these efforts. In general, absenteeism levels decrease when the expense of not working increases (e.g., having to visit a doctor for a health slip, asking coworkers to cover shifts, etc.). This indicates that many of these can be quite successful in situations involving high absenteeism. They will, however, be ineffective if the level falls below 2%.Most of these steps won’t change the fact that you’re already doing a great job of keeping people from missing work.

Here are 13 efficient HR rules for Absenteeism

1. Hand Washing Reduces Absences Significantly During COVID-19 

According to research the lesson we’ve learned from the COVID-19 outbreak, we should wash our hands for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing considerably lowers the rate of infections during the flu season, despite inconsistent results throughout the normal season. Simple but effective interventions include putting up signs that remind people to wash their hands before lunch, after using the bathroom, or when they first walk into the office.

2. Exercise Consistency

A study found that exercise frequency is inversely related to absence. Those who did not exercise were 50% more likely to become ill for more than seven days in a given year than those who exercised three times per week. The table below shows the information. According to the same study, exercising simply once each week already reduces absence by 30%.

3. Workplace Promotion Health (WPH)

WHO aims to keep people healthy. They reduce absence when they are effective. Particularly among employees with comparable conditions, these initiatives are successful (e.g., an alcohol consumption reduction program among blue-collar workers). Programs for employee wellness are a wonderful illustration of this.

4. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 

Worker rehabilitation is the goal of EAPs. Reduced absence and improved health are the goals of these intervention initiatives.

5. Medical Examination

Early detection of issues can help protect workers by allowing for timely screenings for disorders including high blood pressure, diabetes, and colorectal cancer. Employee health is improved and absenteeism is decreased because of these in regular examinations.

6. AOD (Alcohol and other Drugs) Management

AOD policies, which aim to prevent drug addiction, frequently contain written rules that forbid smoking, drinking, and/or using drugs at work. While they can be useful in lowering high-risk drinking, they must be more all-encompassing to influence drug usage. 

7. Drug testing

In various parts of the world, mandatory drug testing is a widespread regulation. These present a tested strategy to reduce the abuse of absences. Drug testing programs, though frequently unpopular, are generally cost-effective and help minimize absenteeism, often at the expense of employee morale.

8. Therapy for depression.

Negative thought patterns are a common challenge for many who experience depression. These mental patterns have the power to affect how we act. Improved treatment for chronic conditions like depression can be very successful. 

9. Increasing commitment

Absenteeism decreases as a result of employee commitment to the company and alignment with its objectives. Absence is decreased by strengthening organizational commitment and developing a shared goal that is committed to by everybody.

10. Rearranging Commitments

Another strategy to reduce absenteeism is to request that workers schedule their own shift changes. This means that coworkers have to be asked to cover their shifts, which puts pressure on workers to show up.

11. Confirmation of absence

Absences are reduced when a policy requiring all absences to be supported by official medical records is implemented. This is referred to as “absence culture” in the literature. One or two unjustified absences that are implicitly accepted as reasonable and unavoidable will spread like wildfire

12. Flexibility and self-reliance

Individual employees’ levels of flexibility and autonomy have an impact on how they behave during absences. According to research, a higher level of autonomy and flexibility at work results in a lower absenteeism rate. This can be explained by a greater sense of ownership over the task and the ability to adapt plans in light of one’s condition. Additionally, the boss’s or leader’s controlling behavior causes increased absences

13. Insurance for absences

Another strategy for lowering absenteeism costs is to get absence insurance. Depending on the laws and geography of the area, these strategies can help bring down the costs of employee absences if they go up a lot because of illness, accidents at work, or other things.


This concludes our overview of workplace absenteeism. The reasons for absent behavior are numerous, and its effects are also numerous. High absenteeism virtually never occurs in isolation, and this is the crucial point. 

Other elements frequently play a role, such as the feeling among employees that management is ignoring them, a toxic organizational culture, poor management, or other causes.