Why is absence management important?

Happy employees

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), the average employee is absent 6.3 days per year, costing companies around £522 per year (the CIPD Absence Management Survey 2016). 

Given the high costs to business, it’s important that you have an effective absence management policy and tools in place. And it’s not just about the costs – there are numerous reasons why absence management plays an essential role in your HR strategy. Here are a few of them.

1. Showing your team you care

There is no doubt that your employees will fall sick from time to time. And when they do, it’s in everyone’s best interest that they stay home. In the era of open offices, it’s easier than ever to catch the office bug that is making the rounds in your workplace.

Some people drag themselves to work despite being genuinely sick. Maybe they are afraid of falling behind on work, don’t want to appear weak or worry about burdening their colleagues with extra tasks. Whatever the reason, it’s important to let your staff know that you care about their well-being and want to give them time to rest. A fully recovered employee is undoubtedly more productive, committed and will likely stay in your company longer.

2. Managing unauthorised absence

Not all absences are equal. Unauthorised absence is when an employee fails to turn up for work without a good reason. These types of absences are not prescheduled or authorized, and sometimes an employee may be deliberately abusing their sick leave privileges. However, with proper absence management tools, you can track, recognise and cut down needless absence. And when employees know that absences are consistently monitored and recorded, they might think twice before pulling a sickie.

3. Identifying problem areas sooner rather than later

Has anyone started taking sick days regularly? Or is it always the same team that is missing someone? Whether it’s about unauthorised or genuine sick absences, it is always worth investigating if there is an underlying reason causing the great number of absences. Besides sickness, a variety of reasons can make your employees reluctant to come to work such as bullying and harassment, stress and burnout, or general low morale at work due to poor management.

Whatever the reason, increasing absenteeism will have an impact on your business. Absent colleagues mean that someone else must usually pick up the slack and juggle additional tasks on top of their own workload. When the situation drags on, it can lead to deteriorating relationships and an increased level of stress. With a proper absence management tracking system, you will be able to spot worrying trends in time and act before the situation gets out of hand.

Have the right tools­

How does your business keep track of absences? While some companies rely on excel sheets in just about anything, many companies are now taking advantage of the large selection of different online absence management tools. What is more, these online HR tools are often designed to not only for absence management but to streamline many other everyday HR processes. When you keep your data in a centralised location it’s easier to get the full picture. Having a bird’s eye view on what’s happening in your company will enable you to make informed, data-led decisions, and act swiftly.

Getting started with absence management

Through proper absence management, you can make sure your employees feel supported in their various life situations while being able to minimise the unnecessary absences. However, each company is unique so copying absence management policy from someone else may not be the smartest idea. If you feel like you might lack the resources, experience or knowledge needed to formulate an appropriate absence management strategy, it’s worth seeking external advice on your next steps.

At Goodwille, we see absence management as an integral part of any HR strategy. Read more about our absence management service and get in touch to get advice on how to formulate your absence management policy and pick the right tools.