A pencil has altered the word from unexpected to expected

The inevitable curve balls

Post New Year’s and most HR managers will be gearing up for the time of year that tends to throw a few curveballs when it comes to employee absenteeism.  Post-holiday blues, inevitable sickness and the self-promise of a new job in the new year can all play havoc with the general equilibrium of our office workforces.

Add to the mix, the sobering stats from the CIPD, which claim that the average rate of employee absence is now 7.8 days per year (as opposed to 5.8 days, in 2019) and we are justified in presuming that the remaining winter months may create quite a few more humps in the road.

A practical checklist

Aside from the many questions which surround the subject of ‘why is so much sickness being taken?’, let’s look at some practical strategies that aim to provide you with a straightforward checklist to effectively plan workloads and maintain operational efficiency during periods of increased absences.

Additionally, we’ll look at the benefits of partnering with a reputable recruitment agency for added support and flexibility in managing workforce dynamics.

Understanding the challenge

During prolonged winter months, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential impact that employee absenteeism can have on productivity and team dynamics. In this guide, we’ll map-out some approaches to pre-emptively address disruptions and maintain a smooth workflow.

Planning workloads

Be prepared for the unexpected – do your homework in advance and be ready for whatever comes your way:

– Analyse historical data

Reviewing historical data helps identify patterns in workload peaks coupled with common employee absence, allowing for a proactive approach to workload planning.

– Anticipate staffing gaps

Utilise historical insights to anticipate potential workforce disruptions, enabling effective planning to mitigate impacts on productivity.

– Distribute workloads strategically

Ensure a balanced distribution of essential tasks among team members to minimise the impact of potential absences and maintain operational efficiency.

– Identify critical roles

Recognise roles critical to ongoing operations and cross-train team members for these positions, ensuring coverage during unexpected absences.

– Implement workload contingency plans

Develop contingency plans with clear guidelines on workload redistribution during peak absence periods, helping the team navigate disruptions more easily.

– Establish a pool of temporary workers

Proactively create a list of pre-screened temporary workers to streamline the process of filling staffing gaps when needed.

– Cross-train existing staff

Enhance workforce flexibility by cross-training team members, allowing for a versatile response to varying roles within the team.

– Utilise freelancers or contractors

Consider engaging freelancers or contractors for specialised short-term projects, adding expertise to the team without a long-term commitment.

– Implement more flexible work arrangements

Increase flexibility in work arrangements – remote/hybrid working is now commonplace, but perhaps revisit what is working and where more flexibility is required during more stretched times.  This can be specifically accommodated to cover unexpected absences without compromising productivity.

– Leverage technology for collaboration

Fully utilise all your collaboration tools and project management software to facilitate seamless communication and coordination among team members, especially when working remotely.  Ensure all team members are kept up-to-date and receive training where required.

– Rotate responsibilities

Develop a rotation schedule for team members to take on additional responsibilities during peak absence periods, ensuring a fair distribution of the workload.  The last thing you want to do is overload them and create any form of resentment, so effective workload management is important.

Benefits of working with a trusted recruitment agency

In addition to the internal strategies outlined above, collaborating with a reputable recruitment agency provides several advantages:

– Access to a ready pool of talent

Recruitment agencies offer quick access to pre-screened candidates, ensuring a rapid response to staffing needs.

– Expertise in matchmaking

These agencies excel in matching candidates to specific roles – it is what they are paid to do.  A good agency will ensure their temporary workers will integrate seamlessly into your team.

– Flexibility in staffing solutions

Reputable agencies provide flexible staffing solutions tailored to your organisation’s needs, accommodating both short-term assistance and long-term support.

– Time and cost efficiency

Outsourcing recruitment to a specialist agency saves time, saves money and reduces administrative burdens, allowing HR managers to focus on strategic responsibilities.

– Quality assurance

Trusted agencies prioritise candidate quality, ensuring that temporary workers possess the necessary skills and qualifications.


Navigating employee absence demands a proactive and strategic approach. By utilising historical data, planning workloads effectively, and implementing measures to address temporary staffing needs, HR managers can maintain a resilient and adaptable workforce.

In addition, collaborating with a reputable recruitment agency can enhance these efforts, providing access to specific skills and a reliable pool of talent.

The Recruitment Consultancy

If you are facing challenges due to staffing shortages (or, more positively, an increase in business!) and are looking for advice, support and solutions, our specialist temporary consultants at The Recruitment Consultancy will be very happy to help.

With offices in Guildford and Worthing, we can supply temps at short notice across all of Surrey and Sussex.  Likewise, if you are looking to recruit more strategically, we can do that too!

Call Guildford: 01483 456465 or Worthing: 01903 820082 to have a chat with one of our experienced consultants today.