Absence reduction

Whilst there are certain sectors that suffer more than others, according to the largest annual survey of it’s kind by XpertHR, the median level of absenteeism for UK business is 2.5% (slightly higher at 3.5% for Public Sector): if you are at this level or less, you are doing OK.

However, when absenteeism above this level occurs it is expensive. Very expensive. Although 2.5% doesn’t sound high, this still represents a cost to UK business of some £11 billion! When absence levels rise in an individual company, it can be crippling.

Despite this, over half of companies surveyed with above median levels of absence admit to having no specific absence reduction strategy, and over 80% routinely cover absence with agency or interim labour.

Applied Acumen have absence reduction solutions to help clients:

  • Understand the true causes of absenteeism
  • Build an absence reduction strategy that works
  • Help managers implement actions to reduce and sustain lower absenteeism


We are ‘heavily’ unionised – will your approach work?


One of our first absence reduction assignments involved several unions, including Unite, T&G and the BFAWU, and was a tremendous success. Not only did absenteeism reduce, staff turnover also reduced from shocking and damaging high levels, and also eliminated a huge backlog of grievances.

Call us to discuss further and review references.

How do you measure the cost benefit of an absence reduction program?

There are a number of costs associated with absenteeism, some obvious, some less so.

The obvious include (but are not limited to): hours attributable to retraining, return to work (RTW) interviews, grievances, and T&A adjustments, along with any costs associated with work simply not being done, of course.

Less obvious perhaps include performance differentials, lost sales, replacement wage differentials, customer complaints, customer loss (churn), talent drain, continuity losses and many more.

When all accounted for, the official CIPD figure for that mere 2.5% absence level of around £500 per employee seems optimistic!

How can you determine the underlying causes of absenteeism in our organisation?

We undertake a detailed review of your organisational practices, taking in amongst other things behaviour, culture, management systems and controls, environment and language used. In our initial (free of charge) discussion with you we might observe:

    • You have an expensive T&A system, yet shop floor managers take more than 2 minutes after the shift start to determine how many people are in, and who or where they are.
    • Managers spend a lot of time completing paperwork relating to attendance, payroll corrections and hours reconciliation
    • There is no absence or turnover management strategy
    • Attendance record is the primary tool for (de)selecting people
    • Agency staff do not report in to one of your specific managers
    • There is little time if any for managers and operators to engage on meaningful dialogue
    • It is not clear to everyone to whom everyone reports
    • You operate ‘continental’ shits (4 on 4 off, say).
    • There are few if any consequences for people who do not perform
    • Absence is higher than 2.5%, yet there is still an overtime bill.
    • The company employee engagement strategy consists mainly of communicating about engagement

Our approach has been applied successfully in all kinds of sectors and environments, such as call centres, warehouses, transport operations, manufacturing and back office administration.

Call us to day for an informal and confidential discussion

Contact us for more information today on +44 (0) 20 3877 0618

Absenteeism fix saves these firms £tens of thousands…