Updated: Dec 7, 2021
We talk about absence management a lot on this blog, unsurprisingly perhaps given what we do, but what is absence management for, and how do you go about it? In this post we’ll explain what we mean by absence management, and some of the key ways to do it.
At the risk of stating the obvious, absence management is about managing staff absence. By absence we mean unplanned time off from work, that is not counting pre-authorised holiday, which we call annual leave. Absence comes in many forms, including sick days, time off to care for children or elderly parents, and unexplained absences from work. These absences are costly to any company, more so because unlike annual leave they can’t be budgeted for. Not only are there financial costs, in sick pay and pay for replacement staff, but employee absence also reduces productivity. Absence management is the art of minimizing these costs.
There are three key elements to absence management: tracking absence, analysing it, and dealing with it.
On the surface, keeping track of employee absence should be an easy task, it is after all simply a matter of recording whether a staff member was present for their shift. Many employers and managers find it complicated though. There are two major reasons for this, first the size of your company may make it difficult. In a large organisation, especially with multiple teams and sites, keeping and coordinating a central record of absenteeism can become a mammoth task.
The second cause is administrative. In your hectic schedule, recording absence can be one of those tasks that seems unimportant, this is even more the case if you use a spreadsheet or paper records to track absence. Both of these issues can be overcome with proper absence management software. LeaveWizard’s customisable, easy-to-use interface makes it simple to record and collate this information across your organisation with a few clicks of a mouse.
Keeping accurate records of absence is all very well, but of little use if you don’t use it effectively. Especially if you use a spreadsheet to keep leave and absence records, it can be hard to spot patterns in a sea of data. This means that sometimes an employee’s absences will have to reach alarming proportions before you notice a problem, and more importantly you might miss subtle clues that could let you proactively address a situation before it becomes a problem. LeaveWizard’s absence management software lets you create customised reports showing you patterns of absence for an individual, a team, or your whole workforce, putting you in control of your data. Added to this are powerful analytical tools including the Bradford Factor, which help you to spot problematic trends and take timely action.
Dealing with Absence
How you handle problem absenteeism is, unfortunately, one thing that LeaveWizard can’t do for you, the most important thing to remember though is to make sure you follow both your company’s policy and local employment laws. For many managers the first instinct when faced with an employee whose absence has become a problem is to start a disciplinary process. In some cases, for example where the employee is abusing your sick leave policy to get extra time off, this will be the right course of action, but you should also think about whether another route might have better results.
This is where analysis of absence data pays off. Spotting worrying patterns of absence early can let you intervene with support for an employee before their absenteeism damages the company, or reaches a stage where disciplinary action is the only option. This might be by arranging flexible hours or a job share for a parent who keeps needing time off for childcare reasons, or perhaps a package of support for an employee with a medical issue. Even for an employee who seems to have no good reason for their time off, frequent absences can be an early-warning sign of a dissatisfied or unengaged worker. In this case sitting down with them and working out a path to develop their career within the company could turn a potential absenteeism problem into an office superstar.
Using an effective annual leave and absence management system can help you get on top of your absence management, saving you time and money. Try our free 30-day trial and see what else LeaveWizard can do for you.