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Employees Calling in Sick Too Often? Here are Reasons Why it Happens

Employees Calling In Sick Too Often? Here Are Reasons Why It Happens

Your employees are calling in sick too often, here are the reasons why it is happening – we will dig deeper into each of these shortly and give you a few ways you can prevent employees from taking advantage of sick days:

  1. Employees are overworked and stressed out
  2. Your office is a breeding ground for germs
  3. They are having family issues
  4. They are exhausted
  5. Low job satisfaction
  6. Unhealthy habits
  7. Chronic illness

As business owners, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that your employees are both happy and healthy and if your employees are calling in all of the time, it is important to get to the root of the problem and solve it.

1. Employees are Overworked and Stressed Out


Stress is the most common mental issue that can be faced by employees and often this is the reason why they will call in sick.

If an employee is in the middle of a difficult project and it is overwhelming to them, they might opt to hide at home and procrastinate instead. 83% of US workers suffer from stress every day and 35% of those who suffer say that their main issue is their boss, according to the American Institute of Stress.

Being a good boss is something you have to learn over time, but the mistake most bosses make is to create a divide between themselves and their team.

If you sit in an office away from your employees and the door is always closed, you aren’t seen as approachable and your workers won’t feel like they can ask you for help when they are struggling.

It is important to regularly catch up with your workers and allow them to come to you when they have too much work on their plate. If you close yourself off, your employees are more likely to just call in and use sick days.

2. Your Office is a Breeding Ground for Germs


If you find that a lot of your employees are calling into work sick it could be directly related to is hygiene in the office.

Did you know that the average desk has 400 times more germs than a toilet? Also, according to a study by Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, office phones, water fountain handles, microwave door handles, and keyboards are the top five most germ-contaminated spots in the office.

Why are offices so full of germs? Well, people are essentially ‘living’ their daytime lives in close quarters which can help germs and bacteria thrive. Some people won’t wash dishes or won’t wash their hands after using the toilet and this has a domino effect on everyone else.

Have you ever noticed that when one person comes into work with the flu, soon everyone has it? This is due to the lack of cleanliness as well as a lack of ventilation in the office.

An incredibly important thing to do as a decision-maker is to hire a professional janitorial team who will keep the office space clean and tidy all year long.

3. Family Issues

As a business owner, it is very easy to forget that the people who work for you are just that: people. Every person who works for you at your company also has their own life outside the office and sometimes one life will cross over into the other.

A common cause of people calling in sick to work is because of issues with family or a sick child. Sadly there isn’t much you can do about this apart from offering for them to work from home if they need to – you can also offer more vacation days but we will get into those solutions later in the blog.

4. Exhaustion


There is a reason why coffee shops are so crazy busy in the mornings.

Waking up early and making that painful commute to the office can be hard for many employees and as a result, they are exhausted all day and trying to wake up.

A very common source of sickness is overworking your employees to the point where they are exhausted.

If you notice employees are often coming into work tired and calling in saying they will be late, it may be a good idea to offer more flexible hours so that those who rise early can come in early and those who struggle can get some extra ZZZ’s and stay later.

5. Low Job Satisfaction

As much as you like to think that everyone loves working for you and that your company is the most awesome company around, your employees might not share that opinion.


Many people stay in a job role that are not happy or passionate in so that they can provide for their loved ones. This lack of passion for the job can cause a sick day now and again when they simply aren’t feeling up to coming in and enduring another day.

As an employer, there is something you can do to try and combat this and it involves asking for employees to do surveys and conduct regular reviews.

These things allow an employee to share what aspects of their role they like, and what they don’t, and you can help them move towards a role that is more aligned with their passions and skills.

By taking the time to ask what your employees enjoy doing in the workday and making adjustments to accommodate their sentiments you will find that they are calling in less often and are likely much more productive!

6. Unhealthy Habits



Desk jobs aren’t a healthy way of life. Now that computer technology is so advanced, many companies can operate solely from offices and this can be an unhealthy lifestyle for those who work for you.

Sitting down all day snacking and staring at screens can make employees tired and also cause body issues such as joint pain and obesity.

To combat this, set times for activity throughout the week such as a lunchtime yoga class or a 30-minute walk outside. You can also provide your employees with sit-stand desks so that they can get up out of their chair and still work.

By encouraging both exercise and healthy eating you will have a healthier workforce and, in turn, one that doesn’t call in sick.

7. Chronic Illness

One reason that an employee might call in sick often is a chronic illness – and there is really nothing you can do to combat this except adjust their schedule accordingly to accommodate doctor’s appointments and provide them with what they need to be comfortable.

Diseases such as fibromyalgia as well as respiratory issues like asthma can cause an employee to struggle more than others. As a business owner, it is a good idea for you to sit down with your employees and take the opportunity to ask them if there is something you can do to help.

It could be that they need a cushioned chair, a private office, or a seat next to the window – small things like this really can make a big difference.

So, now that we have discussed why employees call in sick, what can you change to prevent an influx of sick days?

Preventing Sick Days

Now that we know some of the main reasons why an employee calls in sick, let’s think about what we can do to stop this from happening too often.

Encourage working from home


One of the biggest stresses of working in an office, especially in the city, is the commute.

Getting up early to rush to the office without waking up properly can be a huge downfall for workers and they may choose to stay at home and start their day in a more relaxed manner instead. To combat people calling in sick to avoid being in the office, you can offer them the chance to work from home a few times a week.

Arguably, working from home is better for most people in this day and age and by offering this option to your employees you will be able to avoid losing out on workload and labor.

If an employee has the chance to email and tell you they will be at home for the day instead of calling in sick, they will be able to get their necessary work done and they can save that sick day for when something more serious than being groggy happens.

Offer paid time off

Paid time off is a way to merge sick days and vacation days into one pile. When an employee calls in sick the time that they need off will be taken out of their vacation and won’t be unlimited.

If you have some employees who have been calling in sick very frequently, this is something that is crucial to consider. The idea of losing out on a potential vacation day will make most people opt to come into work instead of staying at home unless they are truly ill.

Create a lounge area


As we were discussing earlier, one of the most common reasons an employee will call in sick is stress.

Work can be a stressful environment at times and if your employees are always feeling under pressure and micromanaged, they might opt to take a day off for their mental health.

This is where you can make a huge change by creating a lounge room that is shut off from the rest of the office.

This room will be one that can be booked by one person at a time for 30 minutes – 1 hour and will allow them to escape from the office and sit in a quiet room alone with their work or their thoughts.

Offices can be very high pressure and if you don’t offer a safe space such as this, it can have a huge impact on your employees and their mental health.

Add a TV, some books, and plants as well as a comfy sofa in this room and allow those who need it to use it whenever they need to regroup. This will reduce work absence by a mile because your employees will know they have a safe place to go to be alone when they need it.

Scrap texts and voicemails

As technology advances, phone calls are becoming less and less frequent and alongside this, people often text or leave a voicemail for their boss when they will be off sick.

The problem with this? It’s too easy. Imagine you are an employee who wants to have a day off. Would you choose to call your boss and explain why you won’t be there or text them?

To stop employees so easily calling off sick, you should require the employee to call the office once it is open and speak to whoever is in charge.

Unlimited vacation days (if it works with your business model)


Just hear us out. It has been proven that when employees are able to take time off work as needed, productivity increases and less sick days are usually taken.

The marketing company Sales­fusion implemented its unlimited vacation policy in 2014 and some of its 72 employees were uncertain about how much vacation is too much and started taking less days off.

Imagine how much better it is to step away from a job and come back with a fresh mind than to be sat staring at it for days on end.

By offering unlimited vacation days employees won’t need to worry about their time off allocation ticking down and running out, and it will prevent them from taking a day off sick because they have been working every day without a break.

Now, of course this will not work for all industries like healthcare or manufacturing, but if you have the ability to offer employees unlimited vacation without it affecting your clientele, we highly suggest giving this a try next quarter!

Relax your policies

Following on from the point above, it has been shown that relaxing your policy on vacation and sick days can do more good than harm.

Although you may assume this would impact working in a bad way, employees who have trust and flexibility to manage their own time are much less stressed than those who don’t, and therefore sick days will be reduced.

An employee will manage their own hours, time in, and sick days and this trust in them will pay off in more ways than one.

Time to talk


If you have done a lot of the things on this list already and your employees still seem to be calling in sick frequently, there must be something deeper going on.

If this is the case, you can meet with employees who frequently call in sick individually and sit down to have a chat.

It is incredibly important to talk to your employees if you are concerned about their attendance because there could be some support you can offer to reduce this.

If an employee is going through a bout of depression or anxiety, for example, you can offer them the chance to work from home at a reduced hour contract for a few weeks while they seek help and get back on their feet.

Choosing to offer help to employees will make a huge impact on your business and your working environment!

Know the law

If you still have issues after having a talk with your employee it is time to take a look at the law and see where both you and they stand. This is a last-ditch effort to resolve the issue of frequently calling in sick and should be the very last thing you look into.

For example, the law might say that they are in the wrong, or it may say that they are entitled to a certain amoung leave for sickness or family issues. Either way, consult the books an then take action from there – you may need to consider reevaluating their employment.

Be careful here and consult with an attorney if you need to. If your employee has a chronic illness or disability, you usually cannot just fire them for not showing up to work when they truly needed to seek care.

So, there you have it. Reasons why your employees are calling in sick and how to prevent it from becoming a frequent problem.

The first step towards reducing sick days in the workplace is to ensure that the environment is truly clean and hygenic, we highly suggest discussing your office cleaning needs with a professional and seeking the right services for your business. Click below to learn more about the top-notch janiotrial services at MC Janitorial.

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