Reducing sickness absence

Definition of absence



  • the state of being away
  • the time during which a person or thing is away
  • the fact of being without something; lack

Word Origin

C14: via Old French from Latin absentia, from absēns a being away

Sickness absence costs businesses an average of £561 per employee each year, but how do organisations reduce this?

Managers need help with reducing absence.

Three-quarters (76%) of the organisations surveyed* have recently taken steps to manage the absence levels of their workforce.

The top reason for introducing an absence management initiative is to support line managers, cited by 69% of respondent organisations.

Other outcomes that employers hope to achieve from introducing absence management initiatives include:

  • Managing the impact on the wider organisation
  • Reducing costs
  • Better management of absence data

Actions taken to manage absence centre on line managers and absence statistics – the latter reflects the growth in gathering and using HR metrics and analytics.

The most common absence management initiatives undertaken are

  • Improving existing record-keeping of absences
  • Improving line managers buy-in to taking an active role in absence
  • Providing absence statistics to line managers
  • Improving return to work interviews

More than seven employers in 10 have also provided line managers with training in absence management

The focus on managers in tackling absence is for good reason.

When employers were asked, which initiative had been the most successful in managing absence, we find that line managers feature in four of the top of the four out of five responses. The findings suggest that ensuring that line managers take an active role in the absence management of their direct reports is key to effectively managing absence.

  • Improve how return to work interviews are conducted and what they discuss
  • Provide absence statistics to line managers
  • Provide line managers with training in absence management
  • Introduce a new or revised absence policy
  • Improve line managers buy in to taking an active role in absence management

Here at, Acorn Support Limited, we offer a range of advice, support and training on absence issues, to ensure you run a successful and profitable business

If we can help please contact us

01562 881019

*Statistics provided from Xpert Hr recent survey

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