Employee Absence Management

Dealing with employees who are sick can be a challenge for any employer. As you try to strike a balance between being a considerate and caring employer, all while trying to ensure absences are minimum and do not affect your business or costs. Though the cost may not be obviously plain, IBEC reports have found in Ireland that 11 million days are lost due to absences. Costing business over €1.5 billion yearly. While CIPD reports that the median cost of absence per employee, per year is close to £522 in the UK.

This may be a current issue for your business that you are trying to manage and you are looking for some guidance on? Absence management is a complex issue with no quick or easy fix. Employee absences can happen as the result of many factors which can vary and relate to the employee concerned. This includes the work they do, their environment and even their own personal lives. You need to consider all this before taking action to handle absentee levels. If you’re looking to manage employee absenteeism, here is some food for thought and actions you can take.

Monitor & Evaluate

Whether you’re dealing with short or long-term absence, the best kick off point is to begin monitoring your staff absences, if you haven’t already done so. Until you know the level of what you are dealing with, it’s pretty impossible to get a handle on the situation. This doesn’t have to be a consuming process though, most HR Software would include a feature to allow this. So be sure to check with your current provider. For a smaller company, it’s as simple as spreadsheet to track and monitor absences.

How does this help you? Doing this enables you to identify trends and even causes of absence from work. It also allows you to take effective action against the employees whose absence is non health related and who may be misusing the company’s sick leave policy. This also allows you to see if your businesses sick leave policy is effective for employees who need it.

Absence Management Policy

Once you have an idea of absence levels from your monitoring. You can now deal with it by undertaking an ‘Absence Management Policy’. An effective absence management policy is one that is clearly set out with the procedure that will be followed in cases of absence through illness. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all solution to workplace absenteeism but a structured policy is required none the less.

You may be wondering, why you would need such a policy? The purpose of it is to make sure that employees who are, or have been, absent from work due to illness are offered support to allow them to return to work. Also to provide reasonable provisions to help them improve their health and well-being. This provides a clear guidance for employees on their rights and responsibilities when it comes to attendance at, and absence from, work. Likewise, it ensures that all employees and managers are aware of the company’s position with regards to absence management.

So there can never be a grey area for concern on either side.

Managing Stress

Stress-related absence from work is on the rise in recent years. It is thought to have occurred as the results of many factors, from the change in the economy to growing workloads and job instability. When combined with non-work related elements like relationship problems and financial concern, this can contribute to large levels of stress. In fact, CIPD reported that 41% of UK Employees have reported mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. These have contributed this towards absences from work.

So how can you manage this for your employees? Actively encouraging your workers to adopt a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally can reap longer term rewards for your business absence rate. Offerings or incentives such as fresh fruit, well-being and mindfulness classes or even gym membership encourage a healthy lifestyle. Likewise flexible working policies may help staff to achieve a better work/life balance, reducing their stress and stress related illness.

With all this talk of employee absenteeism and your business, bear in mind there is a thin line between managing employee absences and forcing employees into work when they’re not well enough to be there. This is the newly coined term ‘presenteeism’. It can happen for many reasons including employees feeling worried about the security of their job or a heavy workload. The unwell employee is likely be much less productive as well as spreading their germs around the office causing more sickness. That is something you don’t want and your business does not need.