Higher productivity in companies – how does data-based absence management help?

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From small startups to large corporations – sickness-related absence is becoming a serious problem in more and more companies. Large companies lose a lot of efficiency due to high levels of sickness, and in the world of SMEs, just one or two people absent due to illness can endanger the entire company. In 2024, sickness absence in German companies was higher than it has been for a long time. The reasons for this are varied, and companies now need to find a solution. A valuable approach is data-based absence management, which companies can use to effectively increase their productivity.

Absenteeism results in significant financial losses

If an employee is seriously ill, he or she should and must recover at home. The old tactic of showing up at the office with a cold or similar is long outdated. However, if the number of sick days in a company seems particularly high, it becomes a problem.

All companies that Reduce sick leavenot only benefit from an efficient workflow. There are also advantages in terms of employee well-being. But why is it that many employees submit the “yellow slip” so often? Various components play a role here:

  • The employer is obliged to continue paying wages for a long period of time; sick pay is only paid after six weeks.
  • The legal regulations are primarily aimed at the needs of employees.
  • Whether by telephone or at the doctor’s – the hurdles for sick notes and continued certificates are very low in Germany.
  • The general level of employee engagement is rather low in many companies, which increases the willingness to call in sick.

From a company perspective, a high level of sickness absence is fatal. Many tasks have to be delegated to the rest of the team, and these employees are then at risk of becoming ill themselves. As soon as companies notice that the rate of sickness absence is too high, they have to take action.

There is a difference between “illness” and so-called “absenteeism”. The latter describes the habitual absence from work. In Germany, such cases lead annual revenue losses of 118 billion eurosAscending trend.

Data-based absence management provides insight into sick leave

While the lack of an employee is immediately noticeable in a small business, the situation is different in large corporations. Who is missing? Even department heads cannot always answer this question immediately.

Colleagues take over the tasks of the absent employee and thus ensure compensation. With data-based absence management, absences can be precisely analyzed and proven. The following data is recorded here, among others:

  • Age, gender, department and other demographic data
  • Reasons for absence due to vacation, training, illness, etc.
  • Absence dates including duration of absence

This stored data is then evaluated using algorithms to reveal trends and patterns. For example, an analysis can show that a certain department has higher levels of absenteeism or that these periods occur more frequently in certain periods. With these findings, companies can then take targeted measures to reduce downtime.

Absenteeism patterns depend on various factors

On certain occasions and at certain times of the year, the number of cases caused by illness automatically increases. Seasonal fluctuations affect, for example, the winter and cold season. Nevertheless, in 2024 it was shown that the sick leave rate in Germany is higher than ever and companies suffer as a result.

Based on the data collected, management can not only determine which people are particularly often ill, but can also draw conclusions about whether there are function-specific differences, whether there are major problems in some departments, or whether there are any chronic health problems.

Tip: If absences occur repeatedly in a department, this should be looked into more closely. Problems such as bullying, differences within the team and an unsuitable working atmosphere can significantly increase the willingness to take sick leave.

Tools for reducing absenteeism in the company

It is not enough to know when employees are sick, because this does not improve their health. Instead, it is important to take appropriate countermeasures. It is not always malicious when parts of the team call in sick more often. There are usually serious underlying problems that can also be caused by the employer’s fault.

With the right leadership, it is possible to reduce sick leave. Appreciation, flat hierarchies and a social working environment help employees feel more closely connected to the company. This emotion, in turn, leads to fewer sick notes being submitted in the medium term.

It is important to remember that serious illnesses and injuries need to be cured. Reducing sick leave means preventing employees from taking sick leave who are not actually sick.

Flexible working hours help reduce absenteeism

People who work eight hours a day often have problems coordinating appointments or making plans for their daily routine. Absences occur because of a dentist appointment in the morning, obligations to children or appointments that could not be planned otherwise. If employees’ working hours are flexible or there is the option of working from home, this can reduce absenteeism.

The more freedom an employee has, the better they are able to coordinate their professional and private duties. Statistically speaking, absences increase during the holiday season, for example. This is when the demands on parents are higher and the obligation to work becomes a problem. Remote work can help. Single parents stay at home with their children, but still do their work reliably.

The decisive factor is satisfaction with the working environment

One of the main reasons for a high level of sickness absence is feeling unwell at work. People who open the door to work in the morning with a “stomach ache” tend to see the sick note as a relief or a way to relax. Work can be exhausting, demanding or stressful – but people can deal with it. However, if the working atmosphere is not right and there is unrest, this can only be compensated for over a certain period of time.

Employers have a responsibility to provide their employees with a pleasant workplace. It is important to ensure that the workload is distributed fairly among all members of the team and is manageable. Conflicts among employees should be dealt with proactively, if necessary through meditative discussions or the works council.

To prevent serious health problems and injuries, workplace safety and ergonomics are also basic factors when designing the work environment. No employee should have to worry about their health because they do not have the right protective shoes or have to use an unsuitable chair.

Conclusion: Employers can proactively reduce error rates

Before anything can be done about the high level of sickness absence, a thorough analysis is needed. This will result in optimized absence management that reduces costs for the company in the long term. Fewer absences = less money lost. According to this motto, it is the employer’s job to increase well-being and minimize sick leave.


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