How to prevent sick leave?

Payroll and HR | 15.06.2021

by Ingrid Petterson

The summer holidays are fast approaching, and very few people think about sick leave. But this is a great time to plan for the autumn, and think about prevention rather than reactive sickness absence follow-up. What do you do to help motivate your employees and ensure healthy employees even when autumn sets in?

Motivated and healthy employees are key factors in successful companies. Through a good working environment, employees get a better quality of life, increased job satisfaction and fewer work-related health problems. So how can you as a leader contribute to getting you there? In this blog post I will give you some tips on tools along the way.


Know your sick leave

By having a good overview of connections and patterns in sick leave, you gain knowledge and can uncover any challenges. Maybe it is a department that experiences particularly high pressure, or some employees who have recurrent absences? Try to get behind the numbers and look at possible explanations. Retrieve quarterly reports so that you know the status, decide what the desired situation is, so that you can make targeted choices for how to get there.

Experience has shown that not all companies use the opportunity to have the status or goals for sickness absence quantified. By comparing your own figures with figures for the industry you are in, and the national average, you will get a picture of how you are doing and whether the goals should be adjusted.

You have a low sickness absence, you said? Very good! It is best to start prevention in peacetime. Do you, on the other hand, have challenges with high sickness absence? Read more about how an HR analysis can give you an overview of your sickness absence figures. (Norwegian article)


Presence focus

It is easier to prevent than to repair when it comes to work-related sick leave. So when we talk about prevention, it is natural to make people aware of the presence factors in the company. This is the "glue" that makes us go to work, even if we don’t feel fresh. Do your employees feel mastered in relation to their tasks? Do they experience being seen by their immediate leader?


Presence factors are about the experience of meaning in work, succeeding with others, having a significant role, overcoming challenges, belonging, loyalty, professional pride, responsibility, being able to utilize one's own prerequisites, being seen by a leader and caring for one another. (Source:

In short, factors that create well-being and provide presence despite "pains".

An important success factor in the presence work is anchoring in both managers, shop stewards and employees. Good team collaboration leads to increased success and ensures increased involvement. It provides ownership and creates commitment for the measures to be implemented.

A tool that has received good feedback, and which you can use together in the mapping of improvement points, is the Presence Flower. This methodology was first developed at Gentofte Hospitals in Denmark, and is a good starting point for finding measures that increase attendance. In the method, you have a solution-focused and positive focus, where it is about talking about what you can do more of. Through staff meetings, workshops and in the follow-up after selected measures, the Presence Flower will help to provide a concrete starting point for further work.

The presence flower in itself does not provide more presence, but the method can help to contribute with measures that in turn lead to more presence.


Absence flower.jpg

The flower consists of three petals, each of them with a theme with two sub-points that are discussed in groups. The dialogue is managed and written down, so that during the meeting you can prioritize what you want to work on next. Questions worth asking along the way are:

What works today?

Can we do something better or different?

Do we have concrete suggestions for improvement?

Start with the petal for organizational matters, and end with the petal "present / absent". This is to ensure that there is a focus on the petals that encourage the most creativity. (Source:

“If you feel seen, needed, respected and thrive with both the manager and work colleagues, it takes a lot for you to be away from work even if you have ailments or illness.” (Source: Bjørnar Brændeland, specialist in occupational medicine, to


A good working environment prevents sick leave

This winter, the Norwegian Institute for the Working Environment (STAMI) launched the tool A good day at work. This digital tool is free of charge, is based on research, and provides industry-specific measures. The goal is to help companies create a better working environment. This spring, 8 industries have been launched, but more are on the way.


One solution does not work for everyone

You have a case that can not be prevented, you say? It's been going on for a long time? Provided that you have documented the measures along the way, expert assistance can be a solution. This offer was launched by NAV in 2019. For more information on expert assistance and other wise measures, join us in a webinar on smarter sickness absence follow-up. The webinar is free.

Expert assistance may be relevant if the absence is not resolved through regular follow-up with the employer, or by using other measures and support schemes.

When an employee is on sick leave for a long time despite treatment, facilitation and efforts from NAV, the reason may be that there is an underlying reason for sick leave. Expert assistance can help to uncover this.

A translation of the Norwegian blog post “Hvordan forebygge sykefravær"

Azets can assist

Did you know that we at Azets can assist as experts?

Do you want support in relation to high sickness absence, management training or counseling? Or do you just want to get started on prevention?

Our advisers can help you get started with mapping sick leave so that you can implement measures based on facts. Contact us for an informal chat!

post author

About Ingrid Petterson

Ingrid has her field of study from psychology and health sciences and has experience from both the private and public sector, most recently in Coperio Bedriftshelse. She has always worked with HR, and has her strengths in systematic HSE, sick leave, organizational development and working environment. Ingrid started in the summer of 2020 as a Senior Advisor in HR Advisory, where she works to deliver faster added value to our customers through innovative HR and HSE.