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The importance of effectively managing employee absenteeism

Unscheduled absenteeism rates are on the rise. Recent statistic indicate that employee absenteeism is at its’ highest levels since 2000. And the majority of missed days are not associated with an illness of physical impairment leaving them unfit to work.

It’s important to note that employee absenteeism is not missing a day of work once a year. Absenteeism can roughly be defined as a state of chronic absence from work.

employee absenteeismThe vast majority of companies look to an employee’s immediate supervisor or department manager to handle any issues of absenteeism. And rightly so since supervisors are in the best position to appreciate the circumstances, and be aware of the conditions related to a particular staff members absence. From this pivotal position supervisors are able to notice a problem or concern practically from its onset. A well trained supervisor can and should observe, document, and communicate concerns as early as possible. So, supervisors must be empowered to remain actively involved in the company’s absence policies and procedures. Proper document handling and filling is critical to any effective monitoring efforts.

Absence training for supervisors should include all aspects of the supervisor responsibilities when managing employee absenteeism, depending on the size of the organization they might need to administer effective return to work interviews, and they should always understand their role as it relates to staff disciplinary procedures when necessary.

The supervisor’s role and responsibilities

Effectively managing employee absences means ensuring that work is appropriately cover off during the absence. But in addition to workflow maintenance there are several other necessary actions that supervisors need to follow, in order to manage absenteeism:

  • Be the first point of contact for sick calls,
  • Identify any red flags i.e. patterns or trends in the employees absences,
  • Maintain detailed, accurate, and up-to-date absence records for their staff, (e.g., date, nature of illness/reason for absence, the expected return to work date, doctor’s certification if necessary),
  • Communicate effectively with upper management or HR

Some of the benefits and features are:

  • Automatic Bradford Factor calculations to flag individual patterns of illness.
  • Gives managers the ability to record return to work dates and/or the employees can access the self-service feature and record the return to work.
  • View all attendance data together including holidays, contractual and statutory plus sick days, lieu days, and off site trainings.
  • Seamless integration with Outlook, various Apple, Google and other applications.

The importance of the Bradford Factor Score

Understanding the importance of the Bradford Factor Score as a tool monitor absence can assist the human resource function in identifying potential issues within their employee base.

More frequent short absences are potentially more disruptive than less frequent longer duration absences to a company’s operations and employee morale. It is imperative that companies manage all type of absence efficiently and effectively and communicate a strong, unified, message regarding the misuse of employee absence privileges.

The Bradford Factor Score is a means by which the human resource function can monitor absence rates and set triggered alerts for action. Trigger points typically lead to an absence review and potentially disciplinary action. However, often times prior to disciplinary action the trigger points can be used more positively to prompt a review or simply to initiate a conversation between managers and employees.

The Bradford Factor is calculated using the following formula: B = S x S x D

B = Bradford Factor, S = Spells or number of occasions of unauthorized absence – in the formula this is squared (multiplied by itself), D = Total number of days absent.

Myhrtoolkit.com automatically calculates this score for you and also offers the ability to manage warning scores including automatic notifications.

It is important to remember that tools are only as effective as the people employed to us them. The data collected can be used to identify emerging themes that can be useful in a comprehensive workflow and employee management HR tool kit as the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development, UK (CIPD) argues:

“Effective absence management involves finding a balance between providing support to help employees with health problems stay in and return to work and taking consistent and firm action against employees who try to take advantage of organisations’ occupational sick pay schemes”