Cut the cost of sickness absence in your organisation

Lizzie Buxton

Written By AdviserPlus

4th November 2021

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HR leaders consistently place effective sickness absence management and employee well-being in their top three strategic objectives. Put simply, an unhealthy workforce is an unhealthy business.

Don’t just take our word for it, the CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing Report 2021 signposts three key objectives on which HR should focus:

  • Intervene early and build healthy workplaces through prevention
  • Support the front-line and invest in managers to boost employee well-being
  • Make more of occupational health

There are several other objectives listed within the report, however the one of the most alarming findings is the stubborn gap between the expectation that is placed on managers to manage attendance on a day-to-day basis and the investment employers make in ensuring they’re trained and supported in their role.

When it comes to managing sickness absence, what really matters is your own organisational absence picture and what you do about it. That’s not just looking at how many days are being lost to sickness absence, but spotting absence trends, causes of absence and establishing measures to support the health and wellbeing of your employees.

Technology & people are key

HR leaders often lack the data they need to understand absence and its root causes. Line managers, meanwhile, lack the tools, support and confidence to effectively address absence cases within their teams.

With the help of technology, supported by human expertise, it’s increasingly possible to tackle absence head-on – and achieve significant cost savings and well-being benefits across your organisation.

Step #1. Empower your people managers.

In the battle to reduce absenteeism and its costs, you need a capable, confident front line.

Too often, the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing prevents managers effectively communicating with their staff and addressing absence issues before they escalate.

Establishing a formal absence management process is crucial, but it isn’t enough.

Managers also need the right technology to enable them to follow processes correctly, as well as support and coaching from people who know employment law and your organisation’s own policies inside out. Our empower solution does exactly this by prompting managers to take the appropriate action and intervention – such as keeping in touch with the employee, generating letter correspondence, arranging meetings or conducting Return To Work interviews – and provides logs to provide assurance that HR policies are being followed correctly and compliantly. The end result is improved manager confidence, capability and effectiveness to take responsibility for people management.

Step #2. Get proactive.

Great, cost effective, absence management should support the legitimate needs of employees, while providing clear and consistent procedures in the event of any unauthorised short-term absence. Proactive absence management isn’t just about helping line managers when they reach out; businesses should adopt an ongoing, two-way flow of information between managers and those supporting them. A proactive approach to absence management can help you:

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Raise managers’ credibility
  • Boost morale and talent retention
  • Improve productivity and team performance
  • Increase profitability and reduce operating costs

It’s important to understand that there can be a variety of reasons for short-term absences ranging from genuine sickness to suspected misconduct. Frequent short-term absences may be influenced by additional factors such as excessive workloads and accompanying stress, problematic working relationships and organisational change can all impact employee wellbeing and subsequent attendance rates. We work with businesses to identify areas for improvement and deliver appropriate training and wellbeing solutions for employees.

Our empower solution has been developed to help reduce sickness absence through proactive case management. Find out more, here.

Step #3. Start pre-empting.

What’s even better than rapidly resolving absence cases? Tackling absence before it happens.

With the right HR technology and analytics, you can start capturing crucial data – for example, the content and context of your line managers’ interactions with their teams – and seeking out trends and patterns in absence, organisation-wide.

As you bring these insights to bear and understand what’s causing your employee absence, a virtuous circle is created: people managers gain greater confidence, more absence cases are addressed, more data is collected, and fresh insights are gained.

So, how much could you save?

Through more effective absence management, we’ve been able to help organisations cut long term sickness by as much as 45%. And often, the associated cost benefits have been huge. .

But every organisation is different.

We can help leaders to empower their managers to give them the skills and confidence they need to manage sickness absence within their organisations, enable them to spot absence trends and make better more consistent interventions. Don’t just take our word for it. See how we’ve helped Post Office and United Utilities cut absence.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can cut the cost of employee absence through proactive management, get in touch:


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