Report: 2016 CIPD Absence Management Survey


Simplyhealth has partnered with the CIPD to produce the annual Absence Management Survey & Report.

Key findings:

Absence Levels

  • Absence is at its lowest level for 7 years and has decreased to an average of 6.3 days a year per employee compared to 6.9 days per employee in 2015
  • Absence levels tend to be higher in larger organisations. Only 4 days per year, per employee are lost because of absence in organisations with less 50 employees compared to 9.4 days lost for companies with over 5,000 employees
  • Manual workers tend to have 2.1 days more absence than non-manual workers

Cost of absence

  • Only a third of organisations monitor the cost of employee absence
  • The public sector and larger organisations are more likely to monitor absence. 55% of public sector organisations do so compared with an average of 33% for the private sector. 72% of organisations with over 5,000 employees monitor absence compared to only 22% of organisations that have less than 50 employees
  • The overall average cost of absence per employee per year is £522 compared to £554 in 2015

Causes of absence

  • Minor illness is the most common cause of short term absence followed by stress
  • Stress, mental health issues, and acute medical conditions are the most common cause of long term absence
  • A quarter of organisations cite non genuine sickness or pulling a sickie as one of their top five causes of absence

Managing absence

  • Almost all organisations have a written absence/attendance management policy
  • Over a quarter of organisations’ report absence management as one of their top 3 people management priorities
  • The most common method for managing short term absence are return to work interviews, trigger mechanisms to review attendance and giving sickness information to line managers
  • The absence methods that organisations rank as most effective are: occupational health involvement, return to work interviews and trigger mechanisms

Work related stress

  • Nearly a third of respondents report that stress related absence in their organisation has increased in the past year
  • Stress is now the most common cause of long term absence and the second most common cause of short term absence after minor illnesses
  • Just 1 in 9 of organisations report that stress related absence has decreased
  • Workload is the most common cause of stress related absence followed by non-work relationships and management style
  • Just over three fifths of organisations are taking steps to identify and reduce stress in the workplace
  • A third of those that report stress as one of their top 5 causes of absence are not taking any steps to address it
  • Common methods for reducing stress related absence include: staff surveys, flexible working/improved work life balance options, risk assessments and stress audits