What Is the Illness Rate?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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An illness rate is a type of statistic that is used to track the impact of employee illness on the productivity of the workforce. Companies may calculate their own internal rate, while nations will also determine the rate on a per annum basis as a means of gauging the impact of illness-related absences on the overall productivity of a given country. Typically, the process involves comparing the number of work days missed by employees due to illness with the total number of planned working days involved in a defined period of time, such as a month, quarter, or year.

With a company setting, determining the illness rate is usually something that is considered part of the human resources management process. The object is not only to identify how much productivity is lost due to employee illness, but also to analyze the data to determine if there is some sort of underlying factor that triggered a significant percentage of that loss of productivity due to illness. When evaluating the information available, it may be found that a significant portion of the absences can be attributed to a virus or other bug that also caused issues within the wider community during the same time period. At other times, research into the reasons for the higher illness rate may point to internal issues that can be addressed and subsequently reduce absenteeism due to illness.


There are several internal issues that could lead to an increase in the illness rate. One has to do with the working conditions found at a job site. When the site is not kept clean, the lack of hygiene can often contribute to the development of colds or chest congestion, making it necessary for employees to remove themselves from the workplace in order to recover. In like manner, air conditioning vents that are not cleaned properly may breed airborne irritants which trigger adverse reactions that lead to absenteeism. By determining if any of these issues are the underlying cause for the illness rate and taking steps to correct the problems, employees do not encounter as many health issues and are able to be at work with greater frequency.

Along with issues of hygiene, human resources will also look for other factors that may be contributing to the illness rate. Stress in the workplace, either due to the nature of the tasks performed or the corporate culture within the workplace, may also lead to the development of a number of health issues that cause employees to miss work. By finding ways to promote a more positive working environment and streamlining the operation so that stress is kept to a minimum, the illness rate is likely to decrease, allowing employees to be more productive and in turn benefit the company to a greater degree.


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