Autumn and winter are notorious times of the year for getting ill. For employers, this means an increased focus on absence management – so team members calling in sick doesn’t impact the wellbeing and workload of healthy colleagues.

To help you navigate peak illness season and maintain business productivity, WhosOffice has put together our top five tips for managing sickness and absences at work:

Request Leave iOS

1. Record staff sickness in one central location

The biggest challenge with absence management is its unpredictable nature. Holiday can be booked months in advance, but you often don’t know until the day that someone isn’t well enough to work.

Usually, employees will call their line manager or HR to say they’re not coming in – but without an effective system for absence management, this message may not always get passed on to team members and direct reports.

To minimise the impact of staff sickness, it’s a good idea to record these type of absences in a central location, like your company holiday calendar. This way, nobody’s waiting around for feedback from a colleague who’s not well enough to work.

2. Understand how absences impact your schedule and workload

If one person calls in sick and it’s something short-term, you can probably muddle through until they’re back in action. But during the winter months, it’s not uncommon for multiple people to be absent due to illness – and this affects your resourcing and service levels. Especially if you’ve also got employees off long-term sick.

While minor illnesses like colds, migraines and stomach upsets account for 88% of workplace absences, muscular injuries, stress and mental health issues are also common reasons for taking time off – and the recovery period can be much longer with these types of conditions.

Whether your team member has a short or long-term problem, effective absence management is very difficult to achieve if you don’t have a clear view of who’s supposed to be working at any one time, and their core task list.

Being able to view your company schedule and workload remit at-a-glance – through employee scheduling software, for example – allows you to measure the impact of team members being off sick.

If you’re running a shift-based business, you may be able to rework your roster on-the-spot to cover workload with lower staffing levels. Speaking of which…

3. Look at where critical tasks can be reassigned

Setting Up Staff Tasks

Even when someone’s off sick, the show must go on. And the quickest way to maintain productivity with reduced resources is to redistribute workload among employees who are still available to work that day.

However, one of the challenges companies face with absence management is a lack of centralised task list outlining people’s core action points.

One way to overcome this is to invest in an online task planning and management tool, which allows you to create a list of daily, weekly and monthly required tasks. Within this, you can set how many people are required to complete each task and any skills or qualifications they must have – so if someone is off sick, you can replace them like-for-like with a team member who has the equivalent competencies.

4. Fill remaining staffing gaps as quickly as possible

Sometimes you’ll be able to get through the day or shift with reduced staff numbers when someone calls in sick. Other times, staff illness leaves you under-resourced to the point where it’s unfeasible or unfair to expect remaining team members to cover everything.

If you find yourself short staffed due to sickness, your number one priority is to fill those gaps as quickly as possible. And this is where absence management technology is a real game-changer.

Rather than having to manually check who could potentially take on extra work and then contacting them to offer overtime, an online workforce management system enables you to fill staffing gaps in a much smoother way. You can use the system to send out an open opportunity alert, which people can respond if they’re available and want to earn overtime or build up time off in lieu.

5. Track absence management to see trends over time

Employees can’t help getting sick, and there may be no pattern behind when people are absent due to illness – and how long for. Conversely, you may be able to identify the weeks and months of the year when staff are most likely to take time off.

Using a workforce management system to centrally record staff sickness will help you to see trends developing over time, so you can put frameworks in place to stop it impacting company productivity. You may also see patterns emerging with certain team members, allowing you to offer additional support in helping them stay healthy and take less time off work.

WhosOffice employee scheduling software makes it easy for your business to improve absence management by logging every day off through a central, online system.

Taking a formal approach to absence management will allow your business to share who’s off with your wider team, where appropriate, and put response strategies in place to adapt your workload plans and quickly fill scheduling gaps – so you’re never compromising on customer service because a team member has fallen ill.

Start your free WhosOffice trial to incorporate absence management into your daily work scheduling.

Overview of WhosOffice


Try WhosOffice for free before you sign up – no credit card required


We offer telephone and email support to our customers, at no extra cost


Cancel when you like with just 30 days’ notice


We don’t believe in add-on charges or set-up fees

Book your Free WhosOffice Trial

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio of