Reducing Sickness Absence in a Manufacturing Company

The manufacturing organisation whilst they have given permission for their case study to be published. They wish to remain anonymous, which I have respected, and their name will not be mentioned in this case study.


This case study examines the efforts made by a manufacturing company, that I have recently supported to reduce their sickness absence among its employees from 12.5% per year to within the 4.4% the UK national average. High sickness absence rates can result in decreased productivity, increased costs, and lower employee morale. By implementing a comprehensive strategy, the organisation aimed to improve employee well-being and reduce the impact of sickness absence on the company's operations.


The organisation is a medium-sized Engineering organisation specialising in producing parts within the Healthcare Sector. The company employs approximately 500 workers across different departments. Over the past few years, the organisation had been experiencing higher-than-desired sickness absence rates, resulting in a strain on production schedules, increased overtime costs, and reduced employee satisfaction.

Problem Identification

I was commissioned by the CEO to conduct an analysis of sickness absence data and identified several key issues contributing to the problem:

  • Lack of Wellness Programs: The company did not have any comprehensive wellness programs in place to address employee well-being and promote a healthy work-life balance. 
  • Inadequate Communication: There was a lack of effective communication between supervisors and employees regarding sickness absence policies, return-to-work procedures, and available support systems. 
  • Absence Management: The absence management process was fragmented, resulting in inconsistent tracking, reporting, and follow-up on employee absences. 
  • Work Environment: Some employees reported feeling stressed due to heavy workloads, inadequate breaks, and insufficient ergonomic support.

Strategy and Implementation

  • Wellness Programs: I developed and implemented a range of wellness programs to support employees' physical and mental well-being. These programs included regular health screenings, stress management workshops, exercise classes, and access to counselling services. The company also encouraged employees to take advantage of their allocated annual leave and introduced flexible working arrangements.
  • Communication and Awareness: To improve communication, I conducted regular workshops and training sessions for supervisors and managers to enhance their understanding of sickness absence policies and procedures. The company also established clear channels for employees to report absences and receive timely updates on return-to-work expectations. Furthermore, informational campaigns were launched to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining good health and the available support systems.
  • Absence Management System: I supported the organisation in sourcing, evaluating and implementing an automated absence management system that enabled supervisors and the organisation to efficiently track and manage employee absences. The system generated reports on sickness absence trends, allowing the company to identify patterns and implement proactive measures. Return-to-work interviews were conducted to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace and identify any additional support required.
  • Work Environment Improvements: To address work-related stress, the organisation also made several changes to improve the work environment. This included redistributing workloads, implementing regular rest breaks, and providing ergonomic assessments to ensure employees had appropriate equipment and workstations.

Results and Evaluation

After implementing the comprehensive strategy, the organisation observed significant improvements in sickness absence rates and overall employee well-being. Key results include:

  • Reduced Sickness Absence Rates: The average sickness absence rate decreased by 25% from 12.5% to 9.37% within the first year of implementing the strategy. This reduction resulted in improved production schedules and reduced costs associated with overtime and temporary staff.
  • Enhanced Employee Engagement: Employee satisfaction and engagement scores increased significantly, reflecting a positive shift in the work culture. Employees reported feeling valued and supported, resulting in increased motivation and loyalty.
  • Improved Communication and Reporting: The automated absence management system streamlined reporting processes, reducing administrative burden and ensuring consistent tracking of employee absences. Supervisors were better equipped to manage absences, leading to improved communication and timely return-to-work procedures.
  • Health and Well-being Impact: The wellness programs and work environment improvements positively impacted employees' physical and mental health. Employees reported feeling more energised, less stressed, happier within the work environment.

Quote from the CEO “I can’t thank Mel enough for all the work she put in to support us through this process and I would highly recommend her to other organisations struggling with absence issues”