How to Manage Absenteeism in Healthcare

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Posted by: Amber
Posted on: 08/11/2022

Absenteeism is a big challenge in many industries, but few sectors see the same repercussions from this prevailing issue as Healthcare. From impacting health services to creating stress for understaffed healthcare teams, the negative effects of absenteeism are immense, which is why finding ways to address it within their workforce and improving the work experience for those on the frontline is a top priority for employers.

This article will outline what we believe to be the core ways you and your organisation can effect meaningful change.

Encourage Compassion in the Leadership Team

Evidence shows that those working in healthcare jobs in the UK are often reluctant to report illness – they are more likely to leave it until they are very unwell to speak up or seek help.

Embedding a culture of compassionate leadership within your organisation will make your team feel they can reach out for help whenever they need it. No matter the scale or manner of the issue. If your people feel supported and understood, they will feel good about coming to work and will be better able to perform their job.

Encourage your leadership team to promote their visibility and engage in regular conversations about wellbeing. Encouraging your managers to share personal experiences is also a powerful way to build trust within your organisation.

Finally, ensure that your people know they have ready access to a leader’s support at any time by maintaining an open-door policy.

Establish a Clear and Consistent Sickness and Presenteeism Policy

Presenteeism – particularly in healthcare where the stakes are high – is just as loaded with risk as absenteeism. Someone who is fronting up to work while unwell (or not fully recovered) may not be capable of performing their job effectively or safely. They will be sicker for longer and will require more time away from work down the line. Not only does this jeopardise patient health, but it puts undue pressure on the rest of your people.

A sickness policy – outlining procedures and expectations – will support your team to take the sick leave they need to recover and return to work in full health.

Provide Work and Life Flexibility

Your people have lives outside of their role as healthcare workers. These lives are often busy and packed with demands. Awareness of these external commitments better places you to offer flexible working opportunities, alleviate pressure and set your team up for success.

When someone is seen for who they are outside of work, they feel valued and understood; this promotes loyalty and positive work outcomes.

Promote Workplace Wellbeing

Promoting workplace well-being is as simple as ensuring your people take adequate rest breaks and have access to quality food while on a shift. Insist that managers and leaders role model – and enforce – these wellness basics as standard practice within your organisation.

If your team takes care of themselves during working hours, it will improve the quality of their rest during their time off. The better they rest, the more likely they are to return to work refreshed and energised.
Provide Professional Development Opportunities

According to the Health Select Committee, recent cuts to the continuing professional development (CPD) budget have contributed to nurses and carers walking away from their careers.

Providing professional development opportunities is an excellent way to upskill and retain valuable team members. Such incentives motivate your people and create a loyal and proactive culture within your organisation.

Employ an Absence Management System

Absence Management Systems – and the data they collect – provide valuable insights into the scale and impact of absenteeism. A good system will identify sickness trends, help managers forecast costs, allocate resources and manage shift patterns.
By removing the guesswork from the equation, your Trust leaders can front-foot absence management and, therefore, remove much of the stress that comes with it.

Ensure Optimum Staffing Levels

Post-pandemic, staff shortages are a harsh reality of working in the healthcare sector. Unfortunately, there are many contributing factors and no quick fix.

Maintaining optimum staffing levels can be hindered by financial and practical barriers that are difficult to overcome. Where possible, we encourage your Trust to prioritise ongoing recruitment efforts to safeguard your team from the penalties of a staffing shortfall.


To effectively manage absenteeism in healthcare, we must care for our carers and patients in equal measure. To do this, we need to establish a sustainable and modern working culture that speaks to the present-day demands challenging the sector and its many workers.

We are a people-first healthcare recruitment agency with nearly 20 years of experience. Our top priority is supporting your organisation to keep running smoothly in the face of worker absences. We understand that finding skilled carers who can deliver quality healthcare is yours!

Contact the team at QS Care today and let us take the task of recruitment off your hands so you can focus on caring for your team’s wellbeing.

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