Article Written by Julia Lloyd


Absenteeism is a problem for most companies, no matter what their size, but for several reasons, it tends to have a much greater impact on small businesses. Reducing absenteeism can have a significant positive impact on a business, both directly and indirectly.

How much does Absenteeism cost the small business owner?

The health of your employees clearly affects your profits, but by how much? In 2013, the average UK worker took 9.1 sick days, adding up to tens of millions of working days, at a total cost of £31 billion to UK companies. For businesses employing 100-250 staff, the average is actually lower than the national figure, at 6.8 sick days per staff member, but still the cost is significant—a total of around £40,500 for each organisation. For small businesses the costs really add up, and since cashflow tends to be tighter in small organisations, the costs of absenteeism can really hit hard. But it’s not just direct financial costs that affect these organisations; there are some indirect costs that affect the business too. One big cost is that of employee morale—because when one member of staff is absent, others have to pick up the slack, so staff become overworked, tired, and stressed, further reducing productivity beyond what’s already lost due to the absence of one employee. According to one study, UK workers take four times as many sick days as workers in other countries, so it’s becoming crucial that employers look at what’s causing absenteeism in their organisation, and how to address it.

Reducing employee absenteeism

Absenteeism increases for many reasons, sometimes relating to genuine illness, but sometimes as a result of problems within the organisation itself. Many such problems develop as a result of workplace stress due to overwork and burnout, low staff morale, harassment or bullying, and even problems within workplace culture, such as poor management style. These aren’t necessarily easy problems to detect and solve, but even so, it’s rare to find a workplace that isn’t affected.

Given the ubiquitous nature of these types of problems, it’s important that workplace culture addresses and solves them, or ideally prevents them before they even develop. Helping employees avoid burnout by providing a healthy workplace environment, adopting a zero-tolerance attitude towards harassment, and fostering workplace relationships that are respectful as well as effective, will go a long way towards making the work environment a more pleasant one, and in reducing absenteeism.

For more information on this area take a look at this guide: –