CIPD Absence Management survey 2014

CIPD and Simplyhealth have published the results of their Absence Management survey 2014. This annual survey has been the key benchmark for absence management for 15 years. However, the number of respondents has remained between 500 and 700, which is a fairly small sample considering the total number of businesses operating in the UK (around 4.9m).Excluding the 74% of businesses that are one-man-bands, there are 1.3m companies who employ staff and will be affected by absence. This year there were 518 respondents and about 50% were SMEs of up to 250 employees (some respondents didn’t state their headcount). The results should also be read in the context that in order to complete the survey, you would need to have a fairly good idea of absence levels in your company and therefore you are likely to be managing absence already. With that preamble, here are the key findings of the CIPD Absence Management survey 2014:

Absence has dropped by 1 day per employee per year

Overall, there has been a fall in absence levels this year by a day per employee, from 7.6 days in 2013 to 6.6 days in 2014. Public sector absence has fallen by almost a day, although at 7.9 days per employee, this figure is still markedly higher than in the private sector (5.5 days).

Companies are focusing on line manager training

This year saw some positive
 trends, which could have contributed to the fall
ing absence levels, including an increased focus 
on attendance strategies. There was also a notable rise in the number of organisations that are developing line manager capability, from 39% of organisations in 2013 to 61% in 2014. This is great news since effective absence management ultimately rests on the line manager’s shoulders.

Smaller companies suffer less absence

Average absence levels are highest in the public services and non-profit sectors and lowest in the private services sector. Absence levels also tend to increase with organisation size, regardless of sector. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that the impact of absence can be far greater in a small organisation less resilient to recover. A single instance of poorly managed absence can cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, of pounds.

Cost of absence is still overlooked

Just under two-fifths of organisations report they monitor the cost of employee absence. The public sector and larger organisations are most likely to do so. This may well be because the true cost of absence is difficult to measure. However, there are direct and indirect costs that quickly add up and should not be ignored.

Median annual cost of absence has risen by £14 per employee

The overall median cost of absence per employee (£609) has changed little over the last few years. As in previous years the median absence cost is highest in the public sector and lowest in the private sector. The median cost in 2013 was £595.

Does the methodology of CIPD’s Absence Management survey reflect the true state of absence in the UK in 2014? Let us know what you think and join the discussion here