In recent reports, absenteeism is at its highest point in ten years. This rise has encouraged businesses to look for causes and solutions. As leaders in the field, Hubstaff has delved deeper into the absenteeism issue in search of practical advice to combat this trend. Finding the root cause is the first step to tackling the issue head-on.

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The impact on businesses

Higher rates of absence negatively affect organizations. When an employee doesn’t come to work, it causes staffing issues that impact productivity and day-to-day operations. This can cause project delays that result in lost revenue and reputation risk. Then comes the added inconvenience of finding someone to cover at short notice.

The main factor causing absence is stress

A survey has found that 76% of participants reported stress as the reason for taking time off. The need to hit targets and work long hours often leads employees to skip breaks. Not taking this valuable time to unwind is causing more stress and impacting physical health, which could lead to absence.

Employers should take more steps to ensure the well-being of their team. Breaks should be encouraged (and flexible work offered wherever possible). They can also consider Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). They often include confidential counseling services that help employees express when they’re burnt out.

Stress negatively impacts absenteeism.

Time off due to flu or a cold

Since the pandemic, there’s been an increase in sick days due to colds. The increased awareness of how quickly things spread could be part of this. Employees would probably prefer it when their colleagues stay home to recover rather than coming to work and spreading illness further. 

The rising cost of living

The cost-of-living crisis has hit people hard. Employees are finding it more challenging to meet basic needs. There’s a surge in mental health issues due to this, which is contributing to absence. Many people are also taking on second jobs to afford necessities, leaving them burnt out and exhausted.

Absence due to mental health

There’s no denying that mental health plays a big part in absenteeism. The pressures of jobs, relationships, and an array of other factors are making it increasingly common for people to struggle with anxiety and depression.

These conditions have not just an emotional impact but also affect people physically, leaving them unfit to work. Shockingly, mental-health-related absences contribute to the loss of 12 billion workdays globally.

What can organizations do?

Employers can adopt policies that help lower absenteeism amongst staff:

  • Concentrate on engaging employees and recognizing their hard work.
  • Provide flexible working wherever possible (i.e., job-sharing, hybrid work, etc.).
  • Increase holidays or annual leave for employees — or consider unlimited holidays.
  • Look into providing private health insurance as a benefit. 
  • Motivate workers to use up any remaining annual leave. (In the UK, less than 40% of adults took all their allowance in 2022).
  • Introduce ‘wellness days’ (once per quarter, for example). You can add these additional mental health days to your annual leave policies. They allow team members to be absent when they’re having an ‘off day.’ 
  • Conduct regular one-on-one meetings. This provides individuals with an opportunity to express their worries or concerns.

Utilize activity features

Shameless plug alert: Beyond policy changes, regular one-on-ones, and a general shift towards prioritizing mental health, having the right tools is also crucial for combatting absenteeism. 

That’s why Hubstaff offers an array of features and add-ons aimed at combatting absenteeism without negatively impacting your team’s mental and physical health. 

  • Activity. Hubstaff productivity features let you see keyboard and mouse activity, websites and app usage, and more that will help you identify burnout.
  • Performance badges. It’s fun to reward employees for activity hot streaks, hours worked, and other accomplishments — but don’t forget that these accomplishments are also a great time to check in to prevent overworking.
  • Shift scheduling. Hubstaff’s shift scheduling features allow you to filter out holidays, set hours limits, and set recurring shifts based on when your employees want to work.
  • Hubstaff Insights. Looking for more in-depth data? The Hubstaff Insights add-on helps balance meeting and focus time, utilization rates, and productive and unproductive apps. 
Hubstaff Insights


It’s no secret that absenteeism has a negative impact on profitability and productivity. Some companies have already implemented strategies to address the issue, but there needs to be a more sustained effort.

To create a positive working atmosphere, it’s advisable to install policies that prioritize well-being, implement flexible working, and promote a healthy work-life balance. Once your new policies are in place, proactively addressing absenteeism with Hubstaff can mitigate the issue before it worsens.

Have you found any success combating absenteeism on your team? We’d love to hear your tips!

Category: Workforce Management