scroll Scroll

Absenteeism explained: which absenteeism figures should I monitor?

In ‘Absenteeism explained’, our experts answer your most frequently asked questions about absenteeism. In this issue: which figures offer a clear picture of the absenteeism in your organisation?

In brief

The absence rate, absence frequency, and the percentage of absentees are the three most important parameters. Analyse them in unison to obtain a comprehensive picture of absenteeism in your company.

The full statement

The absence rate is the proportion of your employees (expressed as a percentage) who are absent during a given period. This mainly charts long-term absence.

The percentage will be higher during flu season than during school holidays. As such, it is more representative to track the average absence rate over a longer period (e.g. a year). The average absence rate in Belgium is 7%.

The absence frequency teaches you how often your employees report in sick on average. Divide the number of new notifications of absence during a certain period by your total number of employees. The absence frequency mainly reveals short-term absence.

Please note
Many companies focus blindly on their absence rate - which means they are only looking at long-term absenteeism. However, short-term absences often have a bigger impact on your organisation. After all, an employee who is sick for only a few days, still retains their wages and are rarely replaced. It means tasks are left undone, and colleagues may have to work overtime.

A third interesting parameter is the percentage of absentees. To obtain this, divide the number of employees who were absent at least once during a certain period by your total number of employees. This figure tells you something about the absenteeism culture in your company: how many employees are absent sometimes, either short-term or long-term? You could also track the percentage of zero absence: the number of employees who were not absent during a certain period divided by your total number of employees.

Three more important points:

  1. Analyse the absence rate, the absence frequency, and the percentage of (zero) absentees together for a comprehensive picture. It is pointless to calculate only your absence rate and then take measures against short-term absenteeism.
  2. Employees who are absent for more than twelve months distort your figures. Do not include them in your analyses, but of course, don’t disregard them. Get to work on reintegration.
  3. Do not compare your figures to other companies’ data. Instead, use your own data from the previous year - for instance - or the figures at organisational level. This way, you can measure trends in your organisation.
    Discover the answer to the question ‘How often do I track my absenteeism data?’'

Tip: absenteeism software
Absenteeism software can be used to digitise your absenteeism figures and create a clear overview of the key absence indicators.
Read more about the advantages of absenteeism software here.

If you have any other questions about absenteeism,
you may want to check if we already provided an answer for you in a previous ‘Absenteeism explained’. Find the list of all the questions here.

If you cannot find the answer you need: Ask our experts here.