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How effective is your absence management?

Jazmin Lopez

Absenteeism among the UK workforce lingers at an all-time low. Despite the decline, employees are still absent some 5.9 days per year. Employee absences cost the UK billions every year.
An organisation embracing absence management can mitigate these negatives.
Smart policies and the right tools can and will control risks. And, in doing so, improve employee care and welfare. Our article takes you through the basics of absence management. Then, shares how absence management policies may improve upon their implementation.

Absence management: what you should know

Many organisations, though not all, have some sort of absence management plan in place for handling absent employees. One can't expect life's unexpected moments but we may yet find patterns why it happens. These patterns become clear with the right tools.
Absence management provides a software solution to control absences. The tool is a fantastic opportunity to digitise HR tasks. With digitisation comes benefits in mitigating negatives of absenteeism explored in this post.
Let's now dig into absenteeism and what HR professionals are doing about it.

The common causes of employee absence

Minor illnesses are the most common reason for absences including:

  • Colds and flu
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Bullying and harassment

Other issues causing absences are:

  • Stress
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Mental health illnesses
  • Recurring medical conditions
  • Child or elder care 

Plus several other personal and non-medical instances. These vary by sectors but are generally consistent across the public workforce.

 The problem with employee absenteeism

The financial impact of an absent employee is first recognised:

  • Paid wages for the time off
  • Replacement work or workers
  • Administrative costs

There are secondary effects of an absent employee.
Safety issues may arise and lost time from micromanaging may add to the problem. Safety may become a problem if a key role is not present. And, workplace morale can see a drop, too. 
Resonating effects are present with each absent employee, too. Low-quality work may pass onward to customers and clients. This may harm the brand and its prospects in the long-run.

The use and value of absence management

Absence management provides two immediate and clear benefits:

  • Reduce operational costs
  • Improve employee welfare

HR can improve policies and programs with data. The data forms a baseline and lets the organisation find ways to reduce costs. HR may also discover trends with tracking to further improve absence management programs and policies.

Absence management introduces many solutions such as:

  • Return-to-work support
  • Assessment services
  • Coordination and management

...and more to which you'll discover when exploring features found in kiwiHR.

Absence management solutions deter absenteeism before it becomes habitual. It reduces operational and secondary costs. Plus, provides a better experience and sense of well-being for employees.
Now, here's how to amplify the benefits of absence management tools and resources.


 How to improve absence management

Absenteeism may not seem problematic in the beginning. A small workforce mixed with life's unexpected moments sees people taking time off. The problem begins when it becomes a pattern.
How can you best use absence management to mitigate setbacks? Consider taking the following steps. 

1. Explore flexible schedules and remote work

Absenteeism becomes less of a problem when companies empower employees with flexible schedules. More specific is the introduction of remote work.
Benefits of remote work are well-documented:
Increased employee retention and reduced stress
Improved output and workplace productivity
Telecommuting can reduce unscheduled absences. This is because many absences are often for personal reasons (not sick days). Remote work removes much of the reasoning why people may take a day off.

2. Introduce a return-to-work program

Even a day or two off can offset an employee returning to work. A lot may change during that time. Introducing a program akin to onboarding eases them back into their role. This return-to-work program may reduce future absences:
Show the company cares for their well-being by checking on them
Understand the reason for the absence and discuss details of a fit note
Explain how they can improve and potential disciplinary actions
Make the necessary arrangments as they return to work
One could use absence management tools to automate these processes.

3. Improve employee and workplace well-being

Happy employees are those excited for work. A company providing for physical and mental well-being will see a productive workforce. The improved well-being means fewer sick days and reasons for calling out.
“Line managers are usually the first port of call on health and well-being issues within their team, and make day-to-day decisions about work allocation and staffing arrangements.” Dr Jill Miller.
A company hub offers a way to manage employee participation in wellness programs. The tool would offer better communication with the team and in meeting their needs.

4. Provide balance, rewards, and recognition

An organisation should offer a reward program for regular attendance.
Excellent staff management begins by recognising the good work done by employees. One should explore improving employee satisfaction as a way to encourage being present.

5. Set disciplinary procedures and consequences

An organisation should do one of two things:

  • Set trigger mechanisms to review attendance
  • Conduct disciplinary or capability procedures for absences

The choice between these two depends on your operation and workforce.
Trigger mechanisms to launch reviews could include too many doctor's notes. This should alert managers they need to step in and explain policies. And, if needed, outline the actions they'll take if absences continue.
If issues continue then disciplinary action happens. Dismissal may prove appropriate for habitual offenders.

6. Use robust absence management tools

Spend less time in the paperwork and more time with the employee. After all, you're working with people trying to find a work/life balance, not robots.
Absence management tools let managers and HR offer data-driven evaluations. This provides a better feedback loop vs outlining or reprimanding off-the-cuff.

Absence management is critical for productivity

A business without absence management will find operations in chaos. The workplace and its drive dwindle due to illness and the like. It's important, as an HR manager, to rein in before it's out of control.
Is absenteeism breaking down operations? Are you having trouble communicating work roles and requirements? Are you lacking the tools and resources for effective absence management? Let kiwiHR help!
kiwiHR includes crucial time tracking, employee management tools. And, extensive oversight and control over time off management. Explore the features of our HR tool and get a better absence management in your business, today.

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