Hot Tip – Managing Absenteeism

Managing sickness and other absenteeism is an enduring headache for most employers and line managers, particularly when beginning conversations to address the issue with staff whose absence record is becoming a matter for concern.

How often staff take sick days is often the key to getting staff to manage their own responsibility at the workplace. Staff frequently cite examples of colleagues who they believe are worse offenders than themselves, muddying the waters in getting them to address their own absence.

Using a simple calculation to ‘factorise’ sickness absence brings instant, objective and comparable measurements of staff absenteeism that puts an individuals responsibility to manage their absenteeism beyond debate, as well as identifying staff whose absenteeism has been flying beneath the radar to date.

How & Why It Works

The calculation is simply: (Number of Days Absent X Number of Occasions Absent) = Absence Factor

Lets use it on two different examples to illustrate the value:

Peter has experienced 16 days absence in the past 12 months. One for a singular day with a heavy cold and the other a 15 day period following planned surgery.

Laura has also experienced 16 days absence over the same period, but spread over 9 occasions for varied reasons and episodes of no more than 2 days per absence.

At face value, both employees have had the same time absent, and an employer would need to retrospectively dig into the reasons and details before taking action.  However, by factorising their absences, the reason to take action on one is clear:

Peter: (2X16) = Absence Factor of 32

Laura (9X16) = Absence Factor of 144

Most organisations set an Absence Factor figure of between 60 to 80 points accumulated on a rolling 12-month period as an indication that an investigatory conversation with that employee needs to take place.  In larger employers, this approach identifies employees of concern who have been able to fly under the radar to date, and tends to be looked on favourably by unions and employment tribunals because of its consistent objectivity.

So, by simply adding this calculation onto your HR information system, you can readily identify staff whose absenteeism is an area of concern and concentrate your investigatory efforts where they are needed the most.

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