Sickness absences aren’t just data

Accurate monitoring of sickness absences is vital in any workplace. This means something more trackable than a phone-call, or an email to their line manager.

Having reliable data allows employers to recognise any developing patterns, or unbalanced amounts of sickness absences.
It is important not to immediately jump to negative conclusions if you discover that employees are taking a larger number of sickness absences than you or your organisation consider acceptable.
There may be many reasons why your employees are taking days off sick, and if you conduct good return to work interviews and have a safe environment, you and your employee may be able to work together to reduce any problem absences and increase their productivity and happiness in the workplace.
It is up to you as a business to set the threshold for sickness absences, but the Bradford Index, which is built into our software, can help you to do so by assigning absences values. Frequent shorter absences accumulate a high score than one longer absence, rather than scoring everything day-by-day and penalising those on long-term sick leave.
In 2017, UK government statistics showed that employees took the equivalent of just over 4 days off. The sickness absence rate (the proportion of working hours taken as sickness absence) for the private sector was 1.7% and 2.6% for the public sector (public sector health workers had the highest rates at 3.3%.)
Businesses can give negative reinforcement for sick days, such as not having company sick pay, or offer positive incentives such as extra holiday time or other perks. These strategies can be effective but you should pay attention that you don’t start suffering from presenteeism, which is when people turn up for work even when they shouldn’t, and is associated with high employee stress levels and low productivity. This is more difficult for employers to detect than absences.
Obviously, no business can eradicate sickness absences, nor, as the linked information on presenteeism shows, should you want to! But with reliable data, honest communication with employees and a fair sickness policy, you can minimise the damage sickness absences do to your business.