Absence management is an employer’s approach to reduce employee absenteeism, avoid workforce disruption and maximize employee productivity via policies, procedures, or programs. It is one area that faces a lot of challenges due to the growing workforce and constantly evolving work culture. Below are 10 common challenges and solutions to Absence management.
1. Analyze absent patterns
CHALLENGE: Some employees take long leaves like long weekends, or offs on days before or after a holiday; Fridays and Mondays. Giving the same reasons every time they take off. Taking offs on particular days of the month.
SOLUTION: It is essential to analyze absence patterns as it helps managers develop a more proactive approach to improve attendance. Absence Management has to be accurate, timely, and accessible. Researches suggest that analyzing absent patterns and recording them have significantly helped reduce absenteeism among employees. The frequency of absenteeism will show how disruptive short-term absenteeism is to the organization.
2. Adding Trigger Points
CHALLENGE: Employees take a cumulative number of absences in a particular period or take pattern-related sickness.
SOLUTION: Once absence patterns have been recorded, trigger points should highlight those employees who HR need to focus on. This is done by setting ‘triggers’ which help determine when and where an action is required. Some triggers may include; cumulative days of absence, like days before and after a weekend or holidays, taking off on particular days of a month, long leaves, reasons for taking off, etc.
3. Get a birds-eye view of absences
CHALLENGE: An employee calls in sick and there is a tight deadline. There are few resources available and HR/ Project Managers has no idea who to put in that position temporarily.
SOLUTION: HR/ Project Managers should have a birds-eye view of the resources available at any given point of time in the organization. When an employee calls in sick, HR/ Project Managers should be able to allot the work responsibility to the next immediately available employee. Before leaves are approved, HR/ Project Managers should be aware of the reasons for taking leave and if the number of employees is enough to complete tasks and meet deadlines in the absence of the particular employee.
4. Long term Human Resource planning
CHALLENGE: Organization has to bear the cost of up to 50 to 70% of an employee’s annual pay to train and replace an employee. There are huge costs involved in absenteeism and attrition.
SOLUTION: Innovative policies and strategies for how to reduce absenteeism have to be formulated. These solutions have to be long-term. Finding the root cause for absenteeism and taking a proactive approach will give rise to lasting solutions. For example, having information like employees who have utilized all their vacation/holiday leaves and those yet to take a time off this year helps to decide if the organization should hire temporary employees or not.
5. Automate Absence Management
CHALLENGE: Too much paperwork and documentation involved in managing absenteeism records. This is expensive and time-consuming for HRs. Manual entries are not possible for large organizations and lead to lots of errors. HR and the Manager cannot keep track of leaves taken by employees.
SOLUTION: With the advancement of technology and growing organization size, there are a lot of software solutions available in the market that help keep track of employee offs and absenteeism. This avoids employees taking more leaves than they are eligible for, and/or losing out on what they are allowed to take. The software automatically tracks absences, conversations related to it, and the action taken. This allows employees and their teams to focus on productive work – leading to business growth.
6. Transparent submission and approval paths
CHALLENGE: Employees do not have a dedicated platform to submit leave requests and managers/HRs do not have records of approving or rejecting leave requests. Everything is haphazard and employees informally text managers to call in sick. Other team members are unaware of the absence of an employee and work is disrupted.
SOLUTION: With a proper tool to manage leaves, employees can click on their calendar and book their time offs with great ease. There is a step-by-step procedure that happens in the backend very quickly. Once an employee books time-off, the manager and HR are notified immediately for approvals. Their decision, approved or rejected, can be done with just a click and the employee gets notified instantly through the mail and on the calendar. If the time off is approved, then other employees are also aware of it and can manage resources or their own time offs accordingly.
7. Remote management of absenteeism
CHALLENGE: Employees are required to book time off from the office system and managers can approve of it only when they log into the system during working hours. This loses out lots of productivity time and leaves less time to reallocate resources.
SOLUTION: A software that can be accessed on the go will help employees book their time offs from anywhere. It can be done from their mobile phones, tabs, or laptops. With the software’s smart geofencing feature, managers and HRs too can approve or reject the submissions. This saves a lot of time and quick managerial decision-making.
8. Legal responsibilities
CHALLENGE: Employees might misuse their leave entitlements or may turn up to work even when they are unable to, to avoid taking offs and losing out on pay. This is because they are unaware of what they are legally entitled to and what they are not.
SOLUTION: Employees and managers should be made aware of the legalities when it comes to taking time offs. Each state and province workplace has to abide by their laws. Employees should be given time off if they have a family crisis. Leave balances should be calculated correctly and it should be ensured that employees are taking their legislative minimum leaves. The absence management software should have an inbuilt library of current state laws and minimum wage policy data so that the HR has to just input the number of hours and the pay gets calculated automatically. The software should also record sickness history so that if an employee exploits his leaves, then disciplinary action can be taken if necessary.
9. Choose the right absence management software
CHALLENGE: There are plenty of absence management softwares available in the market, and deciding the one that best suits your organization is a huge challenge. It should fulfill all the requirements and cater to specific needs.
SOLUTION: Not all absence software solutions are the same. Some are more flexible and sophisticated than others. It is important to choose a system that allows managing different needs within the business, including different absence plans. Absence plans might have to be tailored according to the department or workplace region, and the system has to be flexible enough to cater to all.
10. Adapt to changing work trends- WFH, freelancing
CHALLENGE: With the recent COVID-19 Pandemic and evolving work culture, there are lots of changes to the workplace. Physical workplaces have now become virtual with everyone working from the comfort of their home. It is a challenge to track employee work and absenteeism.
SOLUTION: Using the latest technology and software to track employee action from remote locations helps managers and HRs stay up-to-date on employee performance. Communication might be challenging, but it is not impossible with on-the-go notifications and tracking systems.
There is no tailor-made solution to employee management problems. These were the solutions that commonly worked best for many organizations. It takes time and proper understanding of the employee behavior to come up with effective and innovative solutions to handle absence management challenges.