Did you know employee absenteeism is costing the UK economy £18 billion in lost productivity?

It is hard to determine the true cost of absence to your business; however, we have some figures and statistics that demonstrate the cost of absence across businesses in the UK and top tips on how you can help to reduce the cost to your business…

Absence per sector;
Average Working Time Lost, Per Year (%) Per Employee Average Days Lost, Per Year Per Employee
Manufacturing and Production 2.9 6.6
Private Sector Services 3.6 8.2
Public Services 4.1 9.3
Central Government 4.0 9.0
Education 4.4 10.1
Health 4.6 10.4
Care Services 6.8 15.4
Charity Services 2.6 6.0
Call Centre’s 3.3 7.6


  • Women have a higher rate of absenteeism at 2.5% than men at 1.6%.
  • Workers 65 and over had a sickness rate of 2.9% versus 1.5% for ages 16 to 24 and 25 to 34.
Things to consider when calculating how much sickness is costing your business;
  • Wages if you are paying paid absence.
  • Cost of SSP.
  • Cost of additional overtime or agency workers to cover sickness.
  • Loss of clients due to poor service received due to under staffing.
  • Loss of client referrals due to poor service.
  • Lower productivity from other employees due to low morale.

How Can I Help Reduce Sickness?

There are many strategies and methods that employers can implement, or that they may already have in place that can be utilised to reduce employee absenteeism;

Ensure your employees are working in a pleasant environment.

Reduce stress levels within the office, in recent years over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill. Employees that aren’t under daily strain and are content within their working environment are less likely to take time off due to minor/stress related illnesses.

Keep a handle on employee absence and manage it.

Have a written policy for short term and long term absences and ensure employees understand them. Managing employee sickness and keeping up-to-date information will allow you to see key patterns of sickness, meaning you can address and monitor it on a one to one basis if needed.

Encourage employees to take their annual leave entitlement.

Burning the candle at both ends will only cause it to burn out. Ensure your employees see the benefits of taking their annual leave and have the option to do so. An employee that has periods of rest and time to refresh are not only less likely to need time off but also are more likely to be more productive within the work place.

Offer incentives.

Rewarding your employees for low absenteeism will reduce time off that isn’t necessarily needed (the dreaded sickie…). When providing incentives, it is important that they do not make employees feel pressurised to attend work if they are sick. Incentives may include cash rewards, bonuses, prize draws but they could also include health incentives such as discounted gym memberships or massages and treatments. The key is to choose the one or a number of incentives that will best compliment your employees.

Be supportive.

Showing your staff that you care about their well-being is significant in reducing absenteeism. 12.7% of all absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions and better mental health support in the workplace could save businesses up to £8 billion per year. Support doesn’t have to be costly, this can be done internally, encourage your employees to talk and reassure them that they have a safe place to go and someone to talk to. There are many effective adjustments that can be made for employees with mental health such as; flexible working hours, working from home, quiet rooms, additional help with workload, mentor systems. Again, it is important to adopt methods that best suit your employees and your business.


If you want to find out more about reducing absenteeism, book onto our next talk ‘Calculating the Cost of Absence’ seminar here.

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