Employee absenteeism is one of the biggest pains of any employer. It not only costs paid workdays, but also the expense of lost work, hiring new employees, and training them. However, it is of no use to wish zero employee absences as leaves for illness or personal issues are inevitable. What can be done is to have a system that can manage such absenteeism and minimize losses accrued to the company.
To understand and navigate the difficult waters of absenteeism and productivity and learn how an absence management system works, it would first be pragmatic to understand what absence management is.
Absence management can be said to be a program that focuses on controlling employee absence due to illness or injury with a special emphasis on unexplained, sudden, or excessive absenteeism.
The first step in developing such a system is to collect data that outlines the problem. If your company cannot provide high numbers on this data, it is one of the lucky few. However, a majority of the businesses suffer losses on the account of absenteeism.
An absentee reporting system is helpful for HR executives who have to develop policies for absenteeism and for those operational managers whose companies are in need of serious revisions of existing policies.
An absence management system
1. Defines absence procedures
2. Develops a framework of rigorous monitoring
3. Points out trigger points for action
4. Improves management processes
5. Clearly outlines roles and accountability
6. Gives option for absence due to medical reasons, and
7. Offers alternatives to leave.
An absence management system comes as a software or tool that first determines whether there is an absence problem and then helps to devise an absence strategy and pointers to deal with short term and long term absences. It also gives a framework to identify potential effective practices on the basis of absentee reporting.
Favorable features in a system would be automation of leave and accrual policies that are based on organizational attendance rules; automation of eligibility status of earned leaves, sick leaves, maternity or paternity leaves, and compensatory offs; automatic alert system that flag violations or leave requests; and an easy document generation process. Such features would not only make short work of controlling employee costs but also provide data about alarming areas.
Two very important courses of action that can be taken are to look out for patterns and identify serial offenders. It will help get down to the root of the problem and frame effective policies that can discourage unreasonable absence and create more productivity. Furthermore, when an employee returns from a leave, regardless of the duration, the immediate reporting boss should proactively interview him or her to find out the causes, facilitate return to work, and identify and reasonable steps to avoid future occurrences.
If a trend is spotted where majority of the employees are taking unexplained leaves, then the work environment of the company must be looked into. People need a harmonious work culture that gives them something to look forward to every day. Jobs can easily get boring and its the responsibility of a company to ensure that employees are given initiatives to stay engaged in their respective roles.
While it is true that many employers have been successful in implementing absence management systems effectively and have reined in their employees’ productivity better along with safe guarding themselves from unnecessary losses, there are still many more organizations that remain ignorant of the problem as well as the solution.
Do you have any suggestion on increasing employee productivity and minimize unplanned absences? Share your opinion in the comments section.