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How to measure absenteeism

Accurately measuring the true rate of absenteeism may sound simple, but many organisations get it wrong. Be clear on what information you need in your absenteeism statistics, and validate the calculations used to produce an Absence Rate, or Days Lost Per Employee per annum.

The most recent surveys conducted by DHS has found that 40% of organisations believe they under-report absenteeism, by on average  of 25% – that is, 25% of absenteeism is not even recorded in your payroll or absence system. The impact is that organisations may believe they have an absence issue, but their stats do not support it.

The other main observation is that organisations do not include absence data for staff who may have left the organisation, use average headcounts, exclude certain types of leave, or worse, re-classify unplanned leave as planned leave – such as offering an Annual Leave Day or a Rostered Day off.

But the truth shall set you free.

Measuring Absence Rate

Absence*hours/ Rostered hours x 100 Be sure that you include all absenteeism, such as Sick Leave, Carers Leave, Paid and unpaid leave, Workers Compensation Absence, Lateness. Include data for both current employees and those that have left.

  • Sometimes the source data is Payroll reports, and this data does not reconcile with workforce rostering data. Investigate this further if you have a rostering system as they should be aligned

The above rate is the best measure for accurate absence levels at any point in time. You can convert this absence rate back to Days Lost Per FTE for any given time as follows:

Lets say our absence rate is 4.3%. Work out how many days an employee works. A 5 day a week typically has the following days not rostered: 52 x weekends (104 days), Annual Leave (20 days), Public Holidays (10) = 134 days off out of 364 – 230 working days

Days Lost Per FTE = 230*4.3% = 9.89 days per annum.

If you are wondering what is the best tool to track chronic short-term absence check out our article on the Bradford Factor here


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