Guide to Planning Staff Vacation & Absence without affecting Team Performance

The sickness absence in the UK for the year 2018 was reported at a loss of 141 million days. A direct impact can be attributed to staff absenteeism. Planning absences well can help business continuity.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: May 23, 2022
  • 4 Minutes
guide to reduce staff absenteeism at workplaces

What is the difference between staff vacation and staff absenteeism?

Planned and approved leave is a vacation. Unplanned and unauthorized leave is an absence. Let’s understand them through examples.

Planned leave –

  1. Vacations
  2. Requested day-offs
  3. Medical/personal appointment leave

Unplanned absence –

  1. Personal sick leave
  2. Sickness in the family
  3. No-call / No-show
  4. Bereavement leave
  5. Depression or mental health problems

Additionally, the Working time regulations act protects certain absences. Such as workplace accidents, time off to deal with trade union activities, etc.

Why is unplanned staff absenteeism harmful to business?

There is a direct impact on business financials due to unplanned absences at work. The sickness absence in the UK for the year 2018 was reported at a loss of 141 million days. This is roughly 4.4 days per worker. Read further on the top reasons for such absence here on the report compiled by the Office of National Statistics.

measuring absence impact at work

Well, that’s data. Let’s look at a practical everyday scenario. An employee, scheduled for a day shift, reports an unplanned absence at work. The team manager or the HR manager then has to plan the following things at instant notice.

  • Replace someone else for the day shift
  • An off-day employee can also be called for at short notice

However, the result could be the following things.

  • Reduced productivity for co-workers
  • Nobody can fill the shift, leading to reduced business output

Multiply this with the national average of 4.4 days per works, then the business is losing money.

What are some common strategies used by HR teams to combat staff absenteeism?

There are two ways. The first one is in setting up a clearly defined absence policy. However, the second way, HR teams, and team managers have better success to reduce staff absenteeism by improving employee morale.

Some mandatory processes that can be implemented at the workplace are –

There can also be some debatable policies such as introducing a Bradford absence score to measure and dismiss employees. This can be recommended if companies do not have the time, resources, or willingness to invest in employee wellness.

Try our free online Bradford score calculation below to determine the absence score of an employee and raise awareness. Check here –

Include cultural practices to increase employee morale and boost productivity. With measures such as –

The list can be endless and can go on. The objective is to invest in ‘employee happiness‘. Teams with higher workplace emotional security have reported less absenteeism. The rewards to the HR managers and the company are also double. These measures also reduce employee attrition.

What about ‘Presenteeism’? How do HR managers identify and tackle it?

For starters, presenteeism is the situation, wherein employees do show up to work but are not productive. This is counterproductive.

It is a blind-spot for HR teams and team managers. The cost and consequence of presenteeism are reported to be 10 times higher than absenteeism. Such employees show up to work due to a sense of fear and uncertainty with their job. Several reasons can lead to presenteeism. The label of an absentee. The stigma of being present at work.

However, the solution to presenteeism is the same as absenteeism. HR teams, need to work along with employees to improve their motivation.

How can Papershift help you manage absenteeism at work?

Papershift absence management software, helps HR teams and employees to be fast in declaring and approving absences. Have a look at Chris’ video here to take a quick look –

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Papershift believes in making things simple. Over 200,000+ HR managers love our absence planning software. Papershift is rated 4.9/5 by HR managers.

We urge you to book a free demo with us to understand the possibilities.



Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)