What’s Preventing HR From Managing Unforeseen Absences

What’s Preventing HR From Managing Unforeseen Absences
Last Updated: April 28, 2023

According to research performed by Cezanne HR in conjunction with Personnel Today, a prominent provider of HR software solutions, 56% of workforces are operating as remote or hybrid teams, showcasing the growing development towards flexible work arrangements in the post-COVID-19 age. However, just 30% of organisations have absence policies that allow for hybrid employment, and the remaining 26% are altering their procedures to more accurately accommodate these novel working conditions.

Since the expiration of COVID-19 limits, the number of days lost due to short-term unplanned absences has displayed a different reaction among businesses. Absences grew in 16% of businesses while decreasing by 27%.

Managing short-term absences has proved problematic for 32% of firms with hybrid or remote personnel, while 14% feel it is easier in these situations. In accordance with the study findings, 42% of those surveyed use KPIs or other company metrics to monitor temporary absences of 1-2 days on frequently.

A staggering 87% of the survey respondents believe their employees use sick days, with 10% believing this happens on a regular schedule. The greatest challenging challenge in handling short-term surprise absences, based on the study, is line supervisors neglecting to implement absence regulations.

Businesses have to modify their procedures and standards to accommodate the workforce's shift towards hybrid and remote employment. Keeping updated and efficient absence policies in place can help to mitigate the effects of unforeseen absences on overall output and staff happiness.


The study underlines the need for efficient interaction between workers and their supervisors in charge, as well as the need for additional investigation into how mixed workforces are managed. Companies can assist their employees establish and sustain an enjoyable and successful atmosphere at work by recognizing the challenges and opportunities presented by new arrangements for working.

"With budgets getting squeezed and employment opportunities tightening, organisation's are going to try to operate as efficiently as possible," said Paul Bauer, Head of Content at Cezanne HR. “Nevertheless, our study revealed that a variety of barriers prevent human resources departments from successfully handling unanticipated, short-term absences, especially among distant and dynamically working employees."

Reasons for Unplanned Workplace Absences

Illness and injury are the most common reasons for unplanned absences in the workplace. Employees may need to take time off to recover from an illness or injury or to care for a family member who is ill.

Family issues can also lead to unplanned absences, such as when an employee needs to care for a child or elderly relative. Family emergencies or unexpected events like school closures can also result in unplanned absences.

High levels of stress and burnout can also lead to unplanned absences. When employees feel overwhelmed and overworked, they may need time off to rest and recharge.

Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, can also result in unplanned absences. Employees may need time off to attend therapy sessions or to manage their symptoms.

Transportation problems, such as car trouble or public transportation delays, can also result in unplanned absences, as too can extreme weather conditions, such as snowstorms, hurricanes, or flooding.

Lastly, personal reasons, such as attending a funeral or dealing with a personal crisis, can also result in unplanned absences.

Strategies for Addressing Unplanned Absences

Unplanned absences may have a substantial influence on a business, resulting in decreased productivity, lower morale, and higher stress for those who are left to cover for missing personnel. Unplanned absences require a complete strategy that takes into account the underlying causes, good communication, and proactive actions to prevent repeat absences. Here are some approaches to dealing with unforeseen working absences:

Identify and Address the Underlying Causes: It is critical to understand why employees are missing and to address the underlying reason. Stress, family troubles, and health concerns are all major causes of unscheduled absences. By determining the causes of employee absences, you may provide assistance and services to help prevent future absences. Offering mental health assistance or flexible work arrangements, for example, may reduce stress and avoid future unexpected absences.

Encourage Open Communication: Open communication between employees and supervisors can aid in the prevention of unexpected absences. Employees should feel at ease expressing any difficulties that may interfere with their attendance, such as family or health issues. Managers may collaborate with staff to discover answers to these problems and give assistance as required. Employees are less likely to skip work when they feel appreciated and supported.

Develop a Back-Up Plan: Unplanned absences can be mitigated by having a backup plan in place. Employees may be cross-trained, temporary workers hired, or work may be outsourced as part of this strategy. You can guarantee that work is completed even when staff are absent if you have a contingency plan in place.

Utilise Technology: Using technology to handle absences can assist to streamline the process. Absence management software can help managers track employee absences and arrange for backup employees as needed by providing a centralised approach for managing absences. Employees may also use the programme to request time off and examine their absence records in a simple manner.

Recognise and Reward Good Attendance: Recognising and rewarding high attendance can assist to encourage attendance and decrease unscheduled absences. Additional time off, bonuses, or other incentives may be offered as rewards. Celebrating high attendance may contribute to the development of a constructive workplace culture in which attendance is valued and rewarded.

Develop a Clear Absence Policy: Creating a clear absence policy that specifies the expectations for employees when they require time off can assist in reducing unexpected absences. The protocol for requesting time off, who to notify when an employee is missing, and any documents necessary should all be included in the policy. A well-defined policy ensures that staff understand what is expected of them and eliminates misunderstanding

To summarise, dealing with unplanned workplace absences necessitates a multifaceted strategy that involves understanding the underlying causes, good communication, and proactive efforts to prevent future absences. Employers may limit the impact of unplanned absences on their workplace by having a clear absence policy, fostering open communication, developing a backup plan, utilising technology, and recognizing and rewarding excellent attendance.

Cindy Baker
Editorial Team
The editorial team behind is a group of dedicated HR professionals, writers, and industry experts committed to providing valuable insights and knowledge to empower HR practitioners and professionals. With a deep understanding of the ever-evolving HR landscape, our team strives to deliver engaging and informative articles that tackle the latest trends, challenges, and best practices in the field.

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