Absence management is a strategic weapon that employers leverage to help maximize employee productivity. It involves administering programs designed to reduce absenteeism and return employees to work as quickly and as safely as possible.
Employers are increasingly viewing absence management as a top priority. Per Guardian's "2017 Absence Management Index and Study," companies with 250 to 1,000 employees are starting to catch up with larger businesses in realizing the significance of a robust absence management strategy.
Absence management interventions should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the organization. Below are four tips to consider.
1. Develop "Caring" Leave Policies.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management's "2017 Employee Benefits" report, 96 percent of organizations offered paid vacation leave, 81 percent provided paid sick leave and 33 percent gave paid personal leave.
Employers offer paid time off because it matters greatly to job seekers and employees. But while it's important to provide this benefit, it's just as crucial to encourage employees to take time off when appropriate. Employees are likely to feel supported when they know that reasonable requests for time off will be graciously endorsed. If they don't feel supported, they are more likely to become disengaged — a common reason for absenteeism.
Time off required by federal or state laws should be properly incorporated into your leave policies. Also, try to implement wellness programs that encourage healthy behaviors and less absenteeism.
2. Create a Return-to-Work Program.
Workplace illnesses and injuries impact the bottom line and cause employees to lose wages. A return-to-work program can help reduce workers' compensation costs while restoring employees' earning power. Strategies for the program may include:
- Switching the employee to part time.
- Providing telecommuting opportunities.
- Modifying work duties and schedules.
- Instituting reasonable accommodations for disabled employees.
Though the goal is to bring employees back to work as early as possible, remember to demonstrate empathy towards those recovering from a sickness or injury.
3. Hire the Right People.
Sometimes you just don't see a bad hire coming, as the employee may start off on a promising note only to later disappoint. However, by recruiting candidates who appear to understand the importance of punctuality and showing up, you lower the chances of hiring people who are likely to miss work for no good reason.
4. Outsource Absence Management.
As leave-of-absence administration becomes more complex, more employers are turning to outsourcing. According to a 2018 article published by HR Dive, 40 percent of businesses with 1,000 or more workers plus 27 percent of businesses with 50 or more employees outsource leave administration.
Outsourcing absence management to an HR solutions firm can help you achieve compliance with leave of absence laws, cost savings stemming from fewer lost-time events and faster returns to work, and prevention via a road map built to thwart absenteeism.