The cost of absence – latest figures

Shocking figures revealed by PwC this week, have shown that the UK faces a continuing struggle when it comes to managing employee absence. The cost of sickness has once again risen, with UK organisations now incurring an annual bill totalling almost £29bn.

With UK absenteeism rates more than four times those in some other parts of the world, it is clear that this is an issue which needs addressing.

Employees’ ill health has been identified as the most common cause of absence, in addition to other reasons such as compassionate leave and industrial action. Findings revealed by the CBI as part of separate research, highlighted that a fifth of organisations also believe staff occasionally take non-genuine ‘sickies’ as an occasional perk of the job.

The causes of absence may vary and sometimes these absences cannot be avoided, but one thing remains the same throughout – absences are costly. Of course there is the physical cost of securing cover for the absent member of staff, or swallowing reduced production or service levels when a team is not at full strength. But other effects can also be seen in organisations with absence problems, and all are detrimental to business growth.

The longer absence problems remain unaddressed, the greater the impact on the morale and wellbeing of employees that remain present in the workplace. It is also likely that underlying employment issues will remain unacknowledged, meaning the absence scenario may only get worse.  Perhaps more flexible working patterns would alleviate some of the pressures being placed on staff. Maybe managers are overlooking a crucial problem within the team. Could it be possible that a culture has developed where absences are the norm? Does your company even realise it is suffering from unacceptable absence levels?

Developing an effective absence management strategy is by no means a straightforward task, and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to turning things around. However technology exists to support organisations in their quest to address this problem, and with quality suppliers comes years of experience and extensive advice.

Last year for instance Cascade reported extensively on Synergy Housing’s utilisation of our award-winning HR software, to help save the company almost £300,000 in absence costs in only one year. Rosie Green’s approach captured such attention that she was asked to present details of her journey at the CIPD’s HR Software Show 2012, and she subsequently picked up an occupational health award which praised the success of Synergy’s strategy.

Whilst Rosie’s approach would not suit every business, the crucial thing about this case study is that she acknowledged a problem and she took action. Her research was extensive, she recognised the intelligent and value-adding capabilities of Cascade, and she had utmost confidence in the approach that she devised. It was the best fit strategy for this particular organisation and because of that it worked. The results speak for themselves.

If you would like to speak to a member of the Cascade team about how even simple utilisation of out HR software can help address absence levels in your company, then call us on 0113 255 4115 or email To discover more about Rosie’s absence management journey, watch her HRSS presentation for free below.

Cascade HRSS 2012 Presentation from Cascade HR Ltd on Vimeo.



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Cascade HR is a well-established, award-winning provider of fully-integrated HR and payroll software. The company is renowned as much for its quality of project management and ongoing customer service levels, as it is its dynamic technology. Over