Absence Management Challenges

Different Ways Employee Absenteeism Can Hurt Your Business

Every business is different but studies show that when it comes to absence management challenged in growing teams, these four are the biggest headaches.

1. Excessive Waste of Time

Let’s admit it, most SME’s and startups manage absences through a series of spreadsheets and other paper-based systems.

HR managers often find themselves stuck in this primitive method because it’s familiar and comfortable to use.

However, as the company grows in size, Excel no longer serves its purpose. Here’s why:

The company is no longer a startup. It has grown in size and has spread across a number of locations with various employees working remotely or flexibly. In this scenario, the HR manager no longer knows everyone by sight hence, keeping an accurate record of absences is almost impossible.

Managers, on the other hand, created new spreadsheets to manage their respective teams. These files are emailed back and forth between HR people and line managers.

And no one knows which one is the latest version. As a result, HR managers often find themselves spending a lot of time answering questions about how much annual leave does John have left and whether his absences (official and unofficial) have been accurately recorded.

Employees also have their own share of frustrations. For instance, Martha can’t determine what holiday leave she’s taken and what she is still entitled to.

Because there’s no accurate data, Carl, a team leader, finds it difficult to manage the workload of each employees in his team. And the bottom line?

Everyone wastes an inordinate amount of time which (of course) translates to loss of productivity and money.

2. Legal Compliance

There’s always an occasion when something goes wrong. It’s a fact of life that we must learn to accept no matter how hard we try to manage our employees effectively.

Below are some absence management problems that may lead to legal complications if not properly dealt with.

Recurring Short Term Absence

No matter what industry you are in, there’s always someone in your workforce who succumbs to “Friday Sickness” every now and then.

While the “migraines” and “stomach aches” often sounds genuine, a manager has every reasons to suspect that something is “fishy” — especially if the short term absence becomes habitual.

Time will come that you, the manager, must tackle the issue of Jane’s absenteeism.

Should the issue escalates into a dismissal or disciplinary situation, it is important to have a system in place to record not only the history of absences and reasons behind it but also the actions or conversations that may have been agreed.

Long-term Illness

Sad but true. There will come a time when one of your employees will be absent for a long period due to a long-term illness.

If this is the case, the HR should be able to track the absence and initiate other activities, like sick pay, using all the necessary information in hand.

A record of previous absences and related conversations also allows the HR to discuss any adjustments that might need to be made when the employee returns to work.


While most of your employees may be able to work successfully up to the point when they want to retire, there will always be someone who may find it hard to accept that he or she can’t do the job successfully because of a health or mobility issue or too much absences.

In an ideal setting, the manager would talk to the concerned employee about some adjustments to his or her role in the company.

If you have no choice but to dismiss the employee, it is critical that all the absences, agreed actions and related conversations have been accurately recorded.

Safety and Work-related Incidents

Employees can be absent for a lot of reasons — including injuries in the workplace or other work-related incidents.

The law mandates that each company should keep a record of such events. Using a system that records such cases especially those that lead to absences can help you identify and resolve the problem that caused them.

Here’s the catch: Each of the challenges that we’ve discussed in this section requires a complete and accurate record. Do you think Excel or a paper-based system can handle such recordkeeping? Do you even bother to do that in your company?

3. The Cost of Absenteeism

Do you know that very few companies have tools that allow them to monitor absences? This problem translates into a bigger issue: companies not understanding what absence is costing them.

We are not only talking about money here. There are other serious implications that we should also consider. Let’s take this situation for instance:

You have a team of 15 people and you are working on a project that has a very tight deadline. When you came to the office this morning, you noticed that Pete was absent. Later, you learned that he’s ill.

Now what do you think will happen next? Do you think your team can still meet the deadline?

Just one man off and your team’s productivity can bottom — deadlines get missed, quality of work suffers and employee morale is tarnished as the remaining employees hustle with the extra workload.

An HR system that allows for analysis of absence patterns can help managers develop a more proactive approach in improving attendance.

Typical examples are back to office interviews or a protocol where employees have to call in when they are sick instead of just sending an “I’m Sick” email.

4. Wrong Platform

Absence managements isn’t just about making a streamlined, transparent and consistent approach to absences.

The right HR software can provide diary features which make it easier for managers to see whether they have enough employees at any given time before approving any holiday leaves — taking into consideration all reasons why a team member can’t go to work.

A bird’s eye view of absences and their types allows HR or managers to conduct long-term human resource planning.

For instance, having key information like — who used up all their vacation/holiday leaves and who’s yet to take a time off this year — helps in deciding whether the company should hire a temporary employee or not.

The Bottom Line

Can you see why using Excel and other paper-based methods in absence management don’t cut anymore?

Absence Management Challenges in Growing Teams

In today’s very dynamic world, automation is the key to meeting the absent management challenges posted by growing teams.

By using an HR software that allows you to automatically keeps track of absences, related conversations and actions taken, you and your team can focus more on things that really matters most —- and that is growing your business.


Written By

Lenmark Anthony Baltazar

I have been living a life of HR for as long as I can remember. My experiences helped me realize that true happiness comes from being a blessing to the lives of others. I hope my skills and talents will be a blessing to you as well.