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What makes absenteeism intervention work?

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What makes absenteeism intervention work?

Absenteeism at work is a major problem for many labor organizations and their employees. Such absences disrupt work processes, lead to loss of productivity and increase work pressure among co-workers. Moreover, absence is an indicator of employee health and well-being. (Ybema et al., 2010)

The research project is led by Kathleen Vangronsvelt and Eva Geluk.

Type project Research project as part of the preliminary process for the Chair of "Wellbeing Works"
Project partners Mensura, Bpost, B-Tonic (dochteronderneming van Baloise Insurance)
Duration January 01, 2022 - December 31, 2022
Contact person Eva Geluk

Increasing absenteeism despite interventions

Today there are many interventions to reduce absenteeism at work, yet absenteeism remains high and rising. When we zoom deeper into the literature, we see that not that much is known about "what makes an absenteeism intervention work?" On top of that: the interventions that do exist are very often not based on these (scarce) evidence-based insights and knowledge.

Absenteïsme heading pic

One-year preliminary course on the science behind sick leave interventions (2022)

During this preliminary project, Eva Geluk and Kathleen Vangronsvelt focus on the question "What makes an absenteeism intervention work?" and more specifically on the sub-questions

  1. Tertiary interventions: interventions intended for employees who resume work (with the same or different employer (interventions aimed at work resumption) after illness/absence. When is a work resumption successful, and for whom? And how do we measure success? What can we learn from this particular one?
  2. The supervisor: What is the supervisor's role in an absenteeism policy? What can a supervisor do to reduce absenteeism and ensure the health and well-being of employees?

    Consult the blogs and articles under the publications tab to gain more insights about absenteeism.

    Interventions based on scientific research thanks to chair (2023-2026)

    During the chair that follows this preliminary trajectory (2023 - 2026), Eva and Kathleen will set up interventions - supported by scientific insights - and measure their effects on absenteeism and other well-being indicators.

    Therefore, organizations' efforts to promote well-being can be put towards interventions that have a real impact. This will allow effective interventions and knowledge to be developed and shared. The ultimate goal is to increase the level of well-being on the work floor.


    Absenteïsme well being interventie

    Blog: Preventing sick leave, burnout and psychosocial distress in the workplace: what does work?

    More and more organizations are launching initiatives to give their employees a mental boost. Unfortunately, they are usually organized from a gut feeling, rather than opting for avenues with scientifically proven effect.

    Go to the blog

    Absenteïsme interventie

    Blog: 4 mechanisms that play a role in absenteeism

    It is important to keep a dual focus when looking at absenteeism: one on health promotion and illness prevention (involuntary absence) and another on motivation and mindset (voluntary absence). To better understand the possible influence of a supervisor on absenteeism, it is essential to know that four mechanisms can be at play.

    Go to the blog

    Blog ziekteverzuim web visual

    Blog: 1 in 3 people come to work sick. What message are you giving your employees?

    Don’t want your employees to come to work sick? Then check your organization’s absenteeism culture: what (implicit) message are you giving your employees about being sick and working?

    Read the blog here

    Sociale netwerkanalyse

    Blog: For 1 in 3 employees, talking about mental well-being is taboo

    Discuss mental well-being with your colleagues. Showing vulnerability can be hugely beneficial. The influence of colleagues is often under-researched when it comes to absenteeism. Social network analysis is a refreshing approach for your organization.

    Read the blog here (Dutch)

    Whitepaper web absenteïsme onderzoekspagina

    White paper: What makes absenteeism intervention work?

    In this white paper, you'll get answers to the following two questions:

    1. When is a return to work successful? And what can we learn from this for the prevention of absenteeism in general?
    2. What can managers do to reduce absenteeism and ensure the health and well-being of employees?

    You can download the white paper here (in Dutch)

    HR Magazine logo

    HR magazine: practical insights from our partners

    Our project partners are featured in HR Magazine and shine their light on absenteeism in practice within their organizations.


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    Geluk Eva web

    A question about this project?

    Function Researcher Human Centered Design, senior project lead Stress and Burnout
    Geluk Eva web

    A question about this project?