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National Sickie Day: How to Avoid Unnecessary Absences 

As February 5th looms, we all know what’s coming: the first Monday in February, National Sickie Day. Yep, that infamous day when unplanned absences spike and productivity takes a nosedive. But fear not! With proactive strategies and a supportive workplace culture, employers can effectively mitigate the impact of unplanned absences. We’ve got your back with some savvy strategies to help show you how to avoid unnecessary absences to keep your workplace humming along smoothly and reduce absenteeism throughout the year.

Understanding the Causes:

According to CIPD, the average UK worker takes 7.8 sick days per year which has increased significantly over the past few years. Which raises the question: why? Is the rate of illness rising, or are businesses not keeping up with effectively managing their sickness absences. HR teams need to understand the causes and patterns of sickness leave in their company if they want to know how to avoid unnecessary absences. 

Let’s start by peeling back the layers and understanding why our employees might be calling in sick more often than usual. Sure, there’s the usual winter sniffles and genuine illness which certainly contributes to absences, but there’s also burnout, low morale, disengagement and maybe a dash of post-holiday blues thrown in. By getting to the root of the issues, employers can implement targeted interventions to address them effectively.

Promoting Wellbeing:

Alright, folks, it’s time to get proactive about employee wellbeing, something which is paramount to reducing absenteeism. Encourage your team to prioritise their health with wellness programs, access to mental health support, and maybe even some fun office fitness challenges. Consider offering flexible work arrangements, wellness stipends, or on-site wellness activities to support employees’ physical and mental well-being. A healthy team is a happy team!

Fostering a Positive Work Culture:

Let’s create a workplace vibe that’s so positive, nobody wants to call in sick! Cultivate a culture of trust, transparency, and open communication where employees feel valued and supported. Recognise and celebrate your team’s wins, big and small, and provide opportunities for professional growth and development. A positive workplace culture not only boosts morale but also fosters greater commitment and loyalty among employees. Trust us, a little positivity goes a long way.

Implementing Flexible Policies:

Who doesn’t love a little flexibility? Flexible policies can help accommodate employees’ diverse needs and circumstances, reducing the likelihood of unnecessary absences. Consider offering flexible schedules, remote work options, or generous time off policies. When employees have the freedom to balance work and life, they’re less likely to call in sick just to catch a breather.

Here’s what our COO, Danni Rush said about HR policies that encourage a healthy work life balance: 

“It’s important employees feel they can switch off and reset. Avoid contacting employees outside of work hours where possible to help ease the pressure of being constantly contactable. This is an especially important reminder following the trend of home and work life that the pandemic brought about.”

Improving Attendance Tracking and Management:

Time to get tech-savvy with our attendance tracking! Streamline the process and keep an eye on trends. Utilise technology to streamline attendance tracking, monitor trends, and identify areas for improvement. Implement clear attendance policies and procedures, and ensure managers can nip attendance issues in the bud before they become a bigger problem.

Providing Support for Return to Work:

When our team members do need to take a sick day, let’s make sure they feel supported when they come back. Offer resources such as phased return-to-work programs, accommodations for ongoing health conditions, and access to employee assistance programs. By facilitating a smooth transition back to work, employers can help employees feel supported and valued, reducing the likelihood of future absences.

It can also be pretty useful to invite employees to a ‘check-in’ following a large absence or a big holiday. It is not necessary for this discussion to be extremely formal or drawn out, but it should provide your colleagues with a chance to express their worries, thoughts, and recommendations in a non judgmental setting. The feedback gained here can be extremely valuable if you are learning how to avoid unnecessary absences. 

Encouraging Employee Engagement:

Let’s keep the team fired up and engaged! Foster a sense of belonging and engagement by involving employees in decision-making processes, asking for feedback, and creating opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. Encourage open communication and address any concerns or grievances promptly to prevent disengagement and absenteeism. When everyone feels like they’re part of something bigger, they’re less likely to bail on the team.

Here at Virgin Incentives, we pride ourselves on being able to provide the most exciting solutions to keep your employees engaged. This is where our unique and memorable experiences take the spotlight! Who wouldn’t feel engaged after receiving a thrilling helicopter flight or a fabulous glamping getaway from their employer?


So there you have it, folks! National Sickie Day might be lurking around the corner, but with a little bit of strategy and a whole lot of positivity, you’ll know how to avoid unnecessary absences like pros. By investing in our team’s well-being and creating a supportive workplace culture, we’ll not only keep absenteeism at bay but also foster a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce. Cheers to that!

Want to find out more about our engaging reward solutions? Get in touch with us below to speak to a member of the team: 

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