Top Tips – How to reduce employee absenteeism

Absenteeism is not something that is confined to a few sectors of the economy. It is one of the most persistent obstacles to productivity, profitability and competitiveness. Here are my top tips on how you can mange and reduce employee absenteeism.

Tip 1 – Monitoring employee sickness absence records for frequency and patterns
Many organisations do not bother to keep absence statistics and have no idea of the cost of absence to their organisation. The fundamental building block of any effective absence control programme is the availability of complete, accurate and timely information. Good records are vital to grasp the extent of the problem. Absence management software can assist you to track employee absences and monitor, report and tackle any absenteeism issues you may have.

Tip 2 – Use of the Bradford Factor
Use of “The Bradford Factor” points system can assist with reducing sickness absence. This formula measures the number of incidences of absence and the duration of each absence to compute an absence score, in points, for each employee. This reflects whether the overall absenteeism rate is caused by a few employees suffering from long-term ill health, or a substantial number of employees being frequently absent for relatively short spells. For many organisations the cost and disruption of persistent, short spells of absence are greater than for occasional, longer periods of absence.

Tip 3 – Interviewing employees upon return to work to reinforce a good attendance record
This absence management tool is gathering strength as more employers view it as the most effective way of managing short-term absences. It should be used as a forum for discussing possible preventative solutions, for instance if the employee suffers from back pain, working conditions could be adapted. The return-to-work interview can be used to clarify the impact of individual absence on colleagues, thereby underscoring the value of that employee. This can combat the sickness culture of some organisations, where staff perceive a sickness quota and take leave accordingly.

Tip 4 – Strike a better work-life balance
A crisis at home that could be resolved in the morning is better dealt with if the employee can address the issue honestly with their manager. Otherwise, they may resort to taking two or three days off, feigning sickness, in order to resolve the problem without being penalised. Employees need leeway and employers where possible should ensure that working time arrangements are as flexible as the needs of the business allow.

Tip 5 – Consider a new automated Time & Attendance System
Modern Time & attendance solutions can help organisations manage absenteeism by providing them with the evidence needed to manage any issues. By the very virtue of what they do, time & attendance systems will store all details of hours worked, of all employees, and therefore all details of when they were not there, when they were late, left early or worked overtime. The reporting facilities enable organisations to produce reports, which can analyse absenteeism, by rating, frequency, reason, percentage, cost and the Bradford Factor, and can also create this information in graphical format if required, thereby giving the company the tools to manage any problems.

Tip 6 – People Involvement
In managing the problem of employee absenteeism, the most important requirement is the involvement of managers with employees. The reasons why certain employees are frequently absent or work excessive amounts of overtime can only be comprehended ‘people involvement’. So, while a good absence management system is essential to provide this hard information, the only way to use it effectively, and counteract any problems is through good people management skills.