Absence rate has fallen – But is this year’s CIPD Absence Report all good news?

Considering the state of the Economy, and the fact that people are worried about job security and keeping a roof over their heads it is hardly surprising that according to the annual CIPD Absence Report, absence has come down from 7.7 days per year to 6.8 days whilst stress has been given as the most common cause of long-term absence for the second year running, and has in fact risen.

Whilst a decrease in absence overall should be considered a positive thing – it would appear that ‘presenteeism’ – coming into work ill – is on the rise. Which begs the question – how productive are those employees who do show up for work when they should be recovering from illness? How does ‘presenteeism’ affect the time it takes for them to recover? And how does it affect work colleagues who then have to take time off if the illness is contagious. Whichever way you look at it – ‘presenteeism’ can have a knock-on effect with on productivity and employee morale.

To me it is obvious that a workforce management solution will help manage absence fairly and equitably and can easily pick up on absence patterns amongst employees that are cause for concern – either as an indicator of a stressed-out employee or perhaps someone who is genuinely ill and needs support from an organisation. It will also help managers identify employees whose absence is not attributable to illness – for example it will flag employees who are persistently late back from lunch, or who take Monday’s or Friday’s off to extend their weekend break so that appropriate measures can be taken.  In this way organisations can address’ the issues that need addressing and, by doing this fairly and consistently, increases employee engagement.

So is it good news, I am not so sure? I urge organisations everywhere to take a close look at their absence trends – make sure it can be measured and monitored accurately and ensure they take action to support their managers to enable them to take appropriate action fairly, consistantly and in a timely fashion.


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