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How to Use An Absenteeism Rate Formula
Oct 31, 2023

How to Use an Absenteeism Rate Formula

Explore Topic: Absence Management

Figuring out the amount of time a team member has been absent is simple with the absenteeism rate formula.

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If you’re not a math junkie, you might hear the phrase “absenteeism rate formula” and run in the opposite direction. It's a pretty safe bet that formulas and math problems aren’t a favorite hobby for most people (no judgment if that’s how you like to pass the time, though).

But here’s the thing—if you want to get to the bottom of the absenteeism rate at your company, you’re going to have to crunch a few numbers. But don’t worry. It’s nothing you can’t handle. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about calculating your business's employee absenteeism rate formula.

What is Employee Absenteeism?

Before we get too far, let's first cover what absenteeism is. Absenteeism is when a team member makes a habit of being absent from work (usually without giving a reason or notice).

Excessive absenteeism can chip away at your productivity, profits, and overall team morale. When employees are absent unexpectedly, the rest of your team has to pick up the slack. This can lead to burnout and exhaustion for your employees that are left behind to cover for the person who is absent for the day.

What is the Absenteeism Rate Formula?

The absenteeism rate formula calculates the percentage of time a team member has been absent from work during a specific amount of time.

Could you just pull out your Excel spreadsheet and compare it to how many days a specific team member has been absent for the month? Sure. But using the absenteeism rate formula is more accurate if you want to get some real data on the absenteeism rate.

How to Use the Absenteeism Rate Formula

All you have to do is get the number of absences during a specific period of time, divide it by the total amount of working days (don’t count weekends or holidays), and multiply that answer by 100.

Did we lose you once we started talking about formulas? Don’t tune out just because we used math terms like “multiply” and “divide.” It’s not as tricky as it might seem. Here’s the simple formula for how to measure absenteeism:

Total number of absences

                   _________________________    x 100 = X%

Total period of time


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Absenteeism Rate Formula Examples

So, what does the absenteeism rate formula look like in real life? Let's walk through a few examples to give you a better idea.

Example 1

Lori hasn’t shown up for her shift six times during the last 30 working days. Using the absenteeism rate formula, let’s crunch some numbers to get her absenteeism rate.

6 ÷ 30 = .20 or 20%

That means Lori has been absent 20% of the time.

Example 2

Hector and his family caught Covid. Between his recovery and caring for his sick family, he’s been out for two full working weeks this month. He usually works five days a week, and there were 22 working days in August. We can calculate the sickness absence rate easily using the formula.

10 ÷ 22 = .45 or 45%

Hector’s absenteeism rate for the month is 45%.

How to Use the Annual Absenteeism Rate Formula

Wait—there’s another formula? That’s right! Let's say you want to get a full picture of the absenteeism rate over the course of an entire year. In that case, you need a slightly different absenteeism rate formula. Don’t worry—it’s pretty similar to the one we’ve already covered. Here’s what that looks like:

Number of absences during the year

            _________________________ x 100  = X%

Number of working days during the year

To figure out how many working days you had this year, you have to take a few things out of the equation. Don’t count the PTO you give your employees each year, weekends, or company holidays.

It should look something like this but remember it will be different depending on the holidays and PTO at your company. Here’s an example of how to calculate your working days from 2021:

Working Days in 2021:

Days in the year: 365
Weekend days: 104
Public Holidays: 15
Company PTO: 15
Total working days = 231

Annual Absenteeism Rate Formula Examples

Now that we know how many working days we’re “working with” here, let’s run through an example of the annual absenteeism rate formula (say that three times fast).


Remember Hector? Well, even though he was out for 10 days, he never missed another day all year (except for paid vacation and holidays). So, what does his absenteeism rate look like for the entire year?

10 ÷ 231 = .0432 or 4.32%

So even though Hector missed a chuck of days during one month, over the course of the entire year, his absenteeism rate was 4.32%.


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What is the Average Absenteeism Rate?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average absenteeism rate in the U.S. was 2.9% in 2021.1 And considering that those numbers reflect absences in a post-global pandemic world, they really could be a lot higher. Still, those absences come at a high cost too. Absenteeism adds up and costs employers in the U.S. $225.8 billion each year.2

What is an Acceptable Absenteeism Rate?

Generally, an acceptable absenteeism rate is anything right around the 1.5% mark. That said, it doesn’t mean a rate of 2.5% is a huge red flag, either. If a team member is out sick recovering from a col or the flu, that absenteeism rate is going to spike—and for good reason. And if you're calculating the absenteeism rate of specific employees, it’s important to look at the whole picture of their absence types.

If you thought we were going to say zero was the ideal absence rate, sorry. Having an absenteeism rate of zero might sound great on paper, but that’s just not real life. People go on vacation and take time off. People get sick and need to recover. Having zero team members absent just isn’t an attainable goal. Plus, you do actually want your team to take time off and maintain a healthy work/life balance. In the long run, that will benefit your employee’s well-being and the level of performance they bring to their work.

How to Reduce Your Absenteeism Rate

Everyone wants to find ways to have a lower absenteeism rate, right? The truth is that absences are a part of running a business and employing people. And when it all comes down to it, your company should be prepared to weather some absences from time to time.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stand back and just let absenteeism run wild. The good news is you can do things to help reduce absences at your company. Here are a few ideas to help you out.

1. Have a Clear Attendance Policy

If you don’t have a straightforward and easy-to-follow attendance policy—you need one. Having a policy in place will keep everyone on the same page about attendance expectations. You want your entire team to be fully aware of your attendance policy and know how to access it.

Your employees shouldn’t have to wonder what will happen to them if they don’t show up for work that day. They should know exactly what happens if they are absent without notifying you. Just knowing the attendance expectations (like a point system) can help cut back on absenteeism at your company.


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2. Take Action—Both Good and Bad

This one is pretty simple—just back up your words with your actions. Set the trend at your company by addressing unscheduled absences head on. Believe it or not, just knowing that your company follows through on the attendance policy and takes action can help other employees avoid racking up excessive absences.

Have employees with perfect attendance this month? Celebrate them! Making a big deal out of good attendance will help the rest of your team see how important it is. Plus, a little healthy competition never hurts.

3. Help Your Employees Want To Come To Work

Another option up your sleeve? Make your workplace an enjoyable place to work at. That doesn’t mean you have to throw a pizza party every Friday or let your team bring their pets to work. All you have to do is treat people like people.

A healthy working environment where employees feel valued, seen, and heard can significantly impact finding a solution to absenteeism in the workplace. Pulse surveys, celebrating employee milestones, and praising employees for a job well done make a big difference and encourage employee engagement. If you want your team to come to work, don’t forget to invest in your people and take an interest in their lives. You can never go wrong by doing that.

Start Tracking Absences with TeamSense

If you’re ready to cut back on your absenteeism rate, it’s time to start using an easier attendance management system to track employee attendance. Absence management software to track absences is a simple way to help you get a snapshot of the attendance situation at your company. See who calls out the most, if they’re following the attendance policy, and see trends that pop up (like the same employee who always takes Monday off after a Sunday night football game).

TeamSense makes all of that simple by letting your team text to let your team communicate their absence to you. Relying on text to call off for the day lets your employees use a technology they’re familiar with—no apps to download, no company login information to remember. Send yourself a text to see it in action.