Go to top of page

2: Prevention is better than cure

Did you know?

  • A certain level of unscheduled absence is normal for the maintenance of a healthy workforce and for supporting family friendly practices and work/life balance.
  • Manager behaviour can influence employee behaviour, in particular the roles they play in supporting employee productivity. These include managers helping employees to keep their work in perspective, that is, in balancing work and home life.
  • Organisational culture can be described as the way things are done around here. It is what employees perceive or experience to be accepted or rewarded.
  • Adversarial workplaces, indicated by low supervisor and health and safety support, job insecurity, ambiguity and boredom, contribute to unscheduled absence.
  • Work pressure, harassment and bullying increase the likelihood of psychological injury and workers compensation claims.
  • A high proportion of psychological injury and associated workers compensation claims are preventable by improving morale, leadership and team climate.

Manager’s prevention checklist

Management style

  • maintain an approachable and supportive style
  • invest time in getting to know employees
  • be open to alternative ways of working
  • effectively manage staff workloads
  • respect your employees by ensuring a workplace that is fair, flexible, safe and rewarding.

Management practices

  • ensure employees have necessary equipment to do their job and attend to any required workplace modifications and/or health and safety concerns promptly
  • involve your team in workplace matters and decisions
  • support healthy team dynamics
  • keep track of absences and leave approved
  • acknowledge staff (privately) who demonstrate commitment to minimise absence and attend work whenever fit and able
  • encourage the regular use of annual leave or other planned leave
  • attend to employee safety by ensuring ill or injured employees are not compelled to be at work.


  • send positive messages that convey the importance of attendance and employee welfare
  • frame your discussions on leave policies as employee benefits rather than as entitlements.


  • streamline workflow and avoid duplication
  • monitor work demands and review priorities so they remain realistic.

Job design

  • provide employees with opportunities to use their skills and task preferences
  • consider the individual’s work values, career goals and development needs
  • enrich jobs with meaningful work, variety, control of whole tasks and appropriate delegation of responsibility for decision-making.


  • ensure job advertisements properly reflect the workplace and the job
  • discuss attendance expectations with potential recruits
  • consider the individual’s ‘fit’ with the APS Values, as well as their capability and experience, in line with the merit principle.

Induction and probation

  • use the induction process to establish effective working relationships and clarify attendance expectations
  • use the probation period to observe attendance patterns and to identify and address concerns early.

Performance management

  • provide regular feedback
  • focus on development to build employee confidence to perform
  • regularly acknowledge good performance, successes and achievements.


  • recognise the strong relationship between attendance and a positive and rewarding work environment
  • cultivate a culture and management style that makes your workplace safe, engaging and fulfilling for all.
Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018