Absence Management: Keeping Control
6th November 2015
David usually works on Fridays. Perhaps he’s ill, or maybe he’s booked the day off work because he’s attending a festival, moving house or celebrating his birthday? Perhaps David is looking after his son, because school has had to close without warning. Possibly, David is taking time off for a reason that isn’t as valid and has called in to use up a sick day, rather than booking it as holiday. The exact reason for David’s absence isn’t necessarily important – what is important is how his absence is managed.
Good absence management increases efficiency and reduces the impact of day-to-day staff absence, whilst poor management can compound a series of minor problems into a significantly bigger issue. With the five things below, you can be closer to a better staff absence management system:
Don’t make it overly complicated for your employees to book time off, or to contact you if they’ve unable to work. If your employees feel like they need to jump through hoops, they’re more likely to take time off without warning.
With the option to request a day off using the Staff Squared HR software, your employees don’t need to waste time filling in forms and chasing managers – they can request time off whilst sitting at their computer, and the relevant person can approve that time off without leaving their favourite office chair.
You’d be surprised how often people get away with an extra day of holiday, simply because nobody is properly keeping track. Paper records get buried in a drawer or not created at all, and nobody can quite remember how many days off an employee has taken.
An automated system can record each day off and each sickness day, can instantly calculate remaining holiday allowance and can also work out how many people in each department have requested a specific day off. If an employee has gone over their annual holiday allowance, you can receive an alert to warn you.
Instant calculations can also include working out how much holiday entitlement someone should be given when they join the company, or how much they’ve taken pro rata when they leave.
No Embarrassing Situations
Nobody wants to be in a situation where an important piece of work, with a tight deadline, has been sent to the inbox of a team member that is hundreds of miles from the office, riding a roller coaster or sipping cocktails on the sand. You could be waiting for hours, expecting a response, before you realise your error.
The Staff Squared HR software will reduce the chance of an embarrassing and potentially damaging miscommunication, by sending you daily notifications to let you know who’s not on the clock.
Monitor Trends and Patterns
Whether they’re harmless or an indication of something more serious, monitoring the trends and patterns of staff absence can have significant benefits for you. It’s great to be able to predict when your office will be at its most empty, when people will be rushing to book the available holidays and when people aren’t really that interested in taking time off, for example.
You might notice staff sickness trends, too. It can help to identify them, even if they’re entirely innocent. Perhaps Kate is off a lot during September and October, and you’re able to link this to the fact that she has a young family and is caught up in the germs of the new academic year, but what about Laura’s illnesses consistently falling during the week of a major summer festival? How about Sam, whose sick days all fall on a Monday? You certainly shouldn’t act on any unproven trend that you’ve noticed, but it can really help to be a little more aware of any patterns.
Lateness as Absence
We don’t always think of lateness as absence, but that’s exactly what it is. When someone’s late for work, they’re not in the office and they’re not doing the job that they’re paid for. Even if you pay by the hour and won’t pay for time that they’re not in, you’ve put them on the rota for a reason – they’re needed, and late arrivals can put pressure on everyone else.
When you’re managing staff absence, keeping your records and making sure that there are no issues, don’t forget the people that are frequently late to arrive. They may only be a few minutes late, but 5 minutes each day can add up to an extra 2.5 days off work over the course of a year.
How Should You Approach Any Staff Absence Issues?
Online HR software can help you to keep track and to identify patterns and trends, but acting requires a careful understanding of the law. Don’t make any hasty decisions based on what your HR software is recording – use it as a tool, to improve the efficiency of your staff absence management.
As an employer you have a duty of care to the people that work for your company, and so you should take time to get to know them on an individual basis even whilst automating processes to improve things for you and for them.
The best system for staff absence management is a system that takes advantage of feature-heavy but intuitive and easy-to-use HR software, combined with the personal touch and expertise of a HR manager or HR team.
The right HR software can be an aid to a better connection between employer and employee, which in turn can create a working environment where people are highly motivated and where they’re also able to be honest about any time off that they might need. It will also save you from a deluge of paper forms handed in at the start of November each year, as people start to plan their activities for the festive season!