How to Avoid Employee Absence when your Workforce is ‘WFH’

Every employer wants to avoid its employees having to take sickness or unearned leave as much as possible; but currently the whole world is working in unprecedented unpredictable circumstances. It’s only natural that you and your employees will be experiencing fluctuating moods, motivation and mental health, and these can prove tricky to keep on top of when you’re managing people remotely.

Of course, with forced isolation periods, continuing virus mutations, an increase in the need for compassionate leave and some employees unable to access childcare, employee absence rates are expected to be higher than usual at the moment. There are, however, ways to help nurture remote workers through these difficult times and boost attendance rates – and the implementation of these ‘top tips’ is easy, intuitive and fast!

Manage workloads adequately and fairly.

There’s likely already some kind of workload management system in your business, but now is the time to check it’s working well and fairly; and that it can be amended, and workloads juggled where necessary.

Check in with employees regularly to gage how they’re feeling and how much they feel they’re able to take on, and let them know that if they need less, you can accommodate it. Flexibility is really key here – and equally, if some employees find they’re achieving more working from home than they usually would in the office, you can load them up (within reason, of course)! Don’t be afraid to amend targets to be more realistic or to change timescales. Increased leniency will pay off in the long run.

Enforce breaks and time out.

Many employees will need to adapt their working hours when remote working, so a standard 9-5 is less likely to fit across the board. Whilst this may increase productivity for many, it can result in staff working longer hours and not taking adequate breaks. Encourage everyone to take regular screen breaks, to drink enough water and to get out and about where they can. It may seem counter-intuitive, but prolonged mental exertion and concentration will hinder, not help, performance.

It’s also easy to forget that as an employer you have a legal duty of care to ensure your employees have sufficient break times – and this remains the case even when you’re not able to physically have them leave the office for some lunch.

Be ready to spot the signs of stress.

There’s a lot of unknown issues that can’t be predicted or planned for in the current climate, but stress can be picked up on and identified early. An employee beginning to experience undue stress or the beginnings of burnout may display excessive fatigue, irritableness, deliberate isolation (not of the coronavirus type), a lack in enthusiasm and motivation, and a decrease in performance.

Keep talking to your employees and make sure they know they can come to you if they need anything. Staying open and approachable can help you spot warning signs early on and make accommodations as needed to nurture and support those with problems before they escalate

If you need support with absence management or any other HR issue, contact us today on 01327 640070 or email us at

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