In a tight job market, hiring managers want to ensure that productivity levels are met without the constant impact of looking for absence cover.  With the support of RE Recruitment onsite services, companies can ensure absenteeism is managed effectively with little intervention from you.

Here, Mark Norton, our Head of Onsite Services, shares his tips on managing absences and how RE Recruitment can help.

Track and monitor absence data

As with any potential problem, you need to track and monitor the data before you can find a solution. This is no different with absenteeism. At RE, absence levels are tracked within our onsite operations to help understand reasons and spot potential trends. Is it shift-related, for example, or specific to individuals?

Once the key detail is taken, it can highlight process, culture or issues with recruitment that need to be addressed.

Don’t ignore absence and ensure follow-up conversations take place

Carry out return to work interviews. As a line manager, you need to make sure that you don’t ignore an employee who is sick. This is not about discipline. This is about proactive management, the stresses of work environments are huge and by holding these conversations and understanding these factors you can help prevent longer term absence.

You should identify when the employee is missing work. Is it always on a particular day of the week? Does their schedule correlate to an incredibly stressful time at work? Take note of how often they miss work. If they’re frequently missing work, talk to them about what you’ve observed and ask if anything is going on that’s making coming to work difficult.

You also want to make sure that other employees aren’t treating these people in a negative way. Having a high-functioning team can be easy for them to get overconfident and feel like they are invincible. They might mock people who are “weak” enough to be sick, even if it’s just the common cold. It’s important to talk to your employees about empathy and compassionate treatment of others.

With the on-site RE recruitment team, we ensure we understand your company’s culture and how the operation works. As part of this initial fact-finding, we will help you understand the potential underlying issue causing the absence. We can also support and facilitate these discussions with those returning from an absence.

Create a schedule that prevents burnout and encourages self-care

Treat all workers equally. Make sure your employees know it’s okay to take time off and remember that holiday is essential for both permanent and temporary workers. Remind workers of the importance of both paid and unpaid breaks and using their holiday days. While taking holidays can be a luxury for some, it’s often necessary to prevent burnout and ensure productivity in the long run. Encourage staff to use their holiday, even if it means taking short trips to catch up with family members or just getting away for a weekend of relaxation.

Don’t become over-reliant on overtime, if overtime is a regular expectation then an increase to headcount should be considered even if it’s a shorter-term measure.

Have clear company policies for annual leave and sickness and ensure they are adopted

Establish straightforward and easy-to-understand policies for annual leave and sickness and ensure these are communicated from the start. When employees request time off in advance, you can plan around their absence so allowing booked leave is critical in reducing short notice absence.

Review your current leave policies and make changes to them as necessary. Take stock of what is working and what isn’t. Ask employees for feedback, and if you need to, don’t be afraid to make changes. Collect data on how much time people take off each year. Assess employee satisfaction with your current leave policies through surveys, focus groups or other means.

As part of our service, we can support your organisation in facilitating, writing, and implementing HR policies. We can create bespoke reporting designed to suit your business. We understand that one size doesn’t fit all. So, like all our Management Information, absence reporting can be tailored to suit your organisation’s needs.

Prepare for absences in advance by hiring additional temporary workers

Build in a reasonable level of absence. Let’s face it; it’s unlikely this will ever be zero, so it’s important to plan around an average level to ensure output targets are met. Additional temporary workers can cover for permanent employees who are absent. They are also helpful if your business is seasonally busy, allowing you to hire extra staff without taking on the permanent employee costs in quieter months.

You might be expecting a lot of absences simultaneously, especially during the winter periods or during a pandemic! If this happens, it’s good to build in additional temporary workers to cover.

With an onsite team who is fully integrated into your operation, we can make sure we are prepared for the busier periods.

Understand sickness versus unauthorised absence

The pandemic has taught us that employees should be encouraged to take sick leave when they are ill. Once the underlying factors for absence are understood this will become easier.

Not only is this good for the sick employee, but it’s also better for the company. Fewer people will be exposed to germs and illnesses if they stay at home while contagious, meaning the problem can be minimised.

The better you manage absences, the more productive your business will be! Our onsite service will eliminate the hassle of managing this complex issue for your business. You can find more information here if you want to know more about our onsite service. Or get in touch with Mark at

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