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Understanding Absenteeism Rate Calculation: A Complete Guide

Beekeeper for HR Leaders

Have you heard the news? Employee burnout is at an all-time high.

And many workers are on the verge of quitting their jobs. In the meantime, companies are battling record levels of frontline disengagement and struggling to maintain operations when employees don’t show up for work.

Knowing how to get an exact absenteeism rate calculation can give companies the data they need to take action and re-engage their staff.

Empower your HR team with the tools to engage workers and reduce absenteeism.

Companies need to have data for almost every business decision and it’s no different here. Knowing how to calculate absenteeism is a critical piece of the workforce engagement puzzle that can help companies boost attendance and maximize productivity.

What is Absenteeism? 

Absenteeism is a recurring issue of employees not showing up for work. A healthy workforce will have the usual and occasional absences for illness, taking care of kids, parental leave, or vacation. However absenteeism refers to a bigger issue going on. Workers are regular no-shows and sometimes don’t call in to report the absence. 

If it’s just a single employee who is often absent, the issue might be work-related or personal. Reach out to that worker to review attendance policies but also find out if there is a way to support them. When absenteeism is more widespread, it is often a symptom of an internal problem like a disengaged, dissatisfied workforce. 

Why Should You Measure Absenteeism? 

There’s a saying that swirls around the business world…”You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

If companies don’t know where their absenteeism and attendance stand, how can they begin to take deliberate action to fix it?

Employee analytics allow companies to know all kinds of valuable statistics about their workforce. And absenteeism is a key metric that companies should regularly track, otherwise the problem will persist, or get even worse.

Absenteeism is just the tip of the iceberg. Once it becomes a problem there’s a domino effect:

  • Productivity plummets
  • Dissatisfied customers
  • High quit rates
  • Lower profits
  • Poor work quality

A survey by SHRM found that unplanned absences pushed productivity down by 36%.

It also affects overall employee morale. When workers don’t show up, their colleagues have to pick up the slack. And it’s even more disheartening for those who are showing up when the company doesn’t do anything to fix the problem. 

Finally, companies who have an engaged workforce have 81% lower absenteeism rates compared with those with low engagement. 

Absenteeism Rate Calculation: Formulas and Examples

On any given workday, 3.2% of the workforce is absent. (That number skews higher for frontline industries that have higher disengagement rates.)

If the Bureau of Labor Statistics can get an accurate number, companies should do the same. But first, they need to know how to calculate the absenteeism rate for their staff.

Absenteeism Rate Calculator: Understanding the Formula

With the proper digital tools, you don’t have to do this formula yourself. But it’s good to know how it works.

The basic absenteeism rate formula is as follows:

  • Multiply total number of employees by total number of days absent over a given period. That is the total number of absences. 
  • Divide that by the total number of working days during that period, which is the total number of workers multiplied by the number of possible working days in that same period
  • Multiply the answer by 100

Let’s say you have a staff of 50 and you want to calculate your absenteeism rate using a single month as the time period. Say there are 20 possible working days out of that month, with 50 employees that is a total of 1,000 working days. Now, if 10 employees miss 5 days each that is 50 days with absences out of a total of 1,000. 

So…50 / 1,000 = .05

.05 x 100 = 5

The absenteeism rate is 5%. 

By collecting data long term, you can use bigger periods of time, like a quarter or a year.

But here’s a little secret: if you use a frontline success system, like Beekeeper, you won’t have to manually use an absenteeism rate calculator to run these numbers.

Tracking the Data

Now you know how to calculate absenteeism. But let’s take a step back. How do you acquire the data you need to arrive at that formula?

First, you should have a system in place to track who is working every single day. And that information should be easily accessible. A punch-in, punch-out timecard just doesn’t cut it anymore. Just like everything else in your business, employee attendance should be digitized. Employees sign in and out on a workplace app. Then, with the analytics dashboard, HR or managers can easily pull up attendance for an individual or their entire workforce. 

For desk-based workers, this can be easy to track. For frontline workers, who are often mobile, touching base can be more difficult. A frontline success system that every employee downloads on their device is a simple and secure way for employees to check in (and out) of their shifts. 

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Tracking attendance might seem like a lower-rung priority, so companies often make mistakes when managing absenteeism. Some of them include:

  • Not tracking employee attendance at all
  • Inaccurate tracking 
  • Lack of centralized communication
  • Not knowing employee engagement statistics
  • Using manual processes for calculations
  • Lack of real-time insights 

Too often, things are not streamlined and information is not easy to access. And what’s not in front of us often gets ignored. It really might not seem like a big deal if an employee misses a day here or there. But they all add up. 

Using Tools and Software for Automation

With the acceleration of digital transformation, there are tools for almost every workplace task. 

Having a mobile-first frontline success system like Beekeeper can help a company manage employee attendance in multiple ways: 

  • The all-in-one app centralizes everything— communication, documents, payroll, schedules, training information, and so much more. It is a portal that is accessible to everyone in an organization on a mobile device. Simply connecting with workers, particularly the frontline, can give engagement a boost, make employees more present in their jobs, and miss less work. 
  • Employees can easily communicate with managers to report an absence. But even just having direct access to managers can improve engagement and reduce absenteeism. In fact, managers are the reason for 70% of the variance in employee engagement levels, according to Gallup.
  • With a digital tool, companies can improve shift communication with digital shift scheduling. Managers can make sure there is coverage on every shift and workers have access to their schedules and won’t accidentally miss a shift. Push notifications alert them to any shift changes.
  • With an employee app, companies can automate employee onboarding which connects with employees when they start the job, guaranteeing engagement from day one!
  • Nothing beats real-time insights. Keep your finger on the pulse of engagement and absenteeism anytime you want with a powerful analytics dashboard that empowers your team to make quick decisions to better manage your workforce. 

Discover how to reduce absenteeism in your workforce with digital shift management tools. 


Interpreting Absenteeism Rates

1.5% is a healthy absenteeism rate. That’s the usual organizational level of days missed for regular, excused planned, and unplanned absences, like vacation time or sick days.

Absenteeism from injury and illnesses alone costs businesses $225.8 billion a year ($1,685 per worker.) That does not include unexcused absences. 

But as that rate starts to creep up, companies need to pay close attention. This is especially true for frontline businesses which have higher than average absenteeism rates (the healthcare and service industries see the greatest number of absences.)

In fact, absenteeism costs companies $2,650 for salaried staff, but $3,600 for hourly workers. 

Companies need to track this metric regularly to make sure it stays close to that normal level of 1.5%. 

5 Strategies to Reduce High Absenteeism

Struggling with how to get employees to show up, be present, and be engaged?

Here are 5 tips to approach your workforce management and build a thriving organization.

  1. Go digital. Adopt a mobile workplace tool that can engage every staff equally, frontline teams, and desk-based workers alike.
  2. Be transparent. Have clear attendance policies and make sure they are communicated to everyone. Have a set process for asking for PTO or calling in sick with HR. 
  3. Offer every worker flex time. That will look different for different kinds of workers but make sure everyone has a chance to reach the work-life balance that will keep them present and focused while at work.
  4. Support a stress-free environment. Have some dedicated organizational initiatives around workforce well-being. A million (yes, a MILLION) people miss work every single day due to stress
  5. Make work fun. Yes, this is a workplace, but people need to enjoy being at this company and working alongside their teams. Use your mobile app as a megaphone for employee recognition. Hold team lunches, and celebrate milestones and accomplishments together to build community.

Absenteeism Rate Calculation: A More Productive Workplace

Productivity. Profits. Sales. Customer satisfaction. All the essential business outcomes that companies like to see improve rely on one common denominator: your workforce. Leaders need to ensure workers are present, focused, and engaged and that means knowing your absenteeism rate calculation. By building an organization that prioritizes communication and inclusivity, they can connect with and engage every worker, and create a company where people are happy to show up every day. 

Learn how engagement and attendance are critical for your success. Download our Ultimate Guide to Frontline Success.