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Monitoring staff absences is an inconvenient task cited as the number one headache for HR professionals. Sometimes, confusion arises around different kinds of leaves due to legal entitlement issues, as you may end up unintentionally discriminating against certain groups or individuals. Due to the ongoing pandemic, these issues are cropping up more than ever which is why it is important to handle absence management in an effective manner.
Let’s discuss the six essential steps for managing employee absences effectively:
Do review your present absence management policy and how well it is received by your workforce. Ask these questions to yourself:
Are your employees aware of this policy?
Is the policy regularly reviewed?
Is the policy up to date with the current legislation?
Is the policy clear and exhaustive?
If you’re not sure about any of the above questions then you may need to update your policies to make sure that you’re compliant with the present rules and regulations along with ensuring the best interests of your workforce.
It’s important that managers be given training with respect to absence management on a range of topics such as:
Styles of communication and how to communicate effectively
Emphasizing their duty of care towards all their subordinates
Correct application of different kinds of absence legislation
Managers should take care to understand that effective absence management training involves ensuring that your best resource i.e. your staff should be properly cared for and if they are facing any issues, proper action is taken to resolve the said issues.
Maintaining a proper record of all incidents of absence goes a long way in helping you pick out trends and point out any risks to your business. Do keep in mind that while undertaking this exercise, some general absence patterns may crop up such as:
Younger aged employees having more frequent, shorter periods of absence
Manual workers having higher overall absence periods compared to other groups of workers
Office workers having the highest overall levels of absence owing to a number of reasons predominantly due to stress-related illnesses
New workers having a higher number of unauthorized absences
High levels of absence could be an indicator of employee burnout, disengagement, or stress. It is important that proper support and guidance is provided to any struggling team members while maintaining proper channels of communication with them.
Communication plays a major role in helping employees feel at home when they report back to work after a period of long absence. Some things to consider while communicating with them:
The type of communication or medium to use such as a phone, email or face to face, etc.
Setting up alerts through your HR software to remind you to be in regular touch with the employee
Taking care to meet in a neutral setting or at the employee’s home when communicating face to face
As a manager, you need to understand the value of open and honest communication and how it can aid in facilitating a speedy return to work for an employee returning from a long absence. This can go a long way in enhancing employee engagement levels in your organization.
When planning for employee absences, one needs to evaluate different processes that may be appropriate depending upon the type of absence. These are:
Conducting return to work interviews for all kinds of absences related to sickness
Making use of an occupational health team when dealing with long term absences
Carrying out adjustments to an employee’s working area when they return from their leave
If these processes and policies are already in place as a part of your HR strategy, they will be easier to apply and help ensure a seamless transition back to work for the absent employees.
Once an employee rejoins the organization after a term of absence, it is important to provide them with support so that they’re able to get up to speed in no time. Let’s discuss some ways in which you can ensure this:
Being open-minded and supportive upon the employee’s return to work
Taking time to conduct assessments and periodic checkups to ensure they’re coping well with workload and work stress.
Being honest about any adjustments that you’re making in their work responsibilities; reviewing their work, etc.
Creating an effective absence management strategy helps in cutting down costs. By following these six essential steps, you can lower employee absenteeism as well as come up with different plans on how best to reduce it.
If you’ve made the decision that you must tackle absence management, then the next step becomes much clearer. To implement an effective absence management strategy, you’ll need to adopt modern, intuitive cloud-based HR software that will help you reach your absenteeism goals.
Go with Webtel’s HR Pearls that not only helps improve staff absence but also empowers teams to manage and care for individual employees through its employee-friendly modules - attendance management, employee database management, leave management, payroll management system, compliance management system, and employee self-service portal.
Want to read about what absence management challenges SMEs will face in 2021? Click here.