According to the Office for National Statistics, a record high of an estimated 185.6 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the UK in 2022. That figure is up by just over 36 million compared to 2021 and is the equivalent to 5.7 days of absence per worker.
Sickness absence therefore presents a number of major challenges for employers. At a very basic level, employers are faced with the very real uncertainty of if they are going to have sufficient staff to run their business from one day to the next. In times when many businesses are also having to make some really tough decisions on costs, staff absence is another element to throw into the mix as business owners have to decide if they can get by, if they need to pay other staff overtime to cover for absent colleagues or even bring agency or casual staff in which will again result in added expenditure.
We’ve put together some simple tips for effective absence management, so in the event one or more of your employees call in sick, you know how to deal with the situation.
Sickness absence challenges
No business is immune from the impact of staff absence and the knock-on effects of it. Staff absence can have a detrimental effect on colleagues who have to cover and this can lead to resentment and poor team morale at times. This will then filter through to lower engagement, productivity, performance and issues of staff retention. The impact isn’t limited to internal issues as staff absence can also affect the service received by clients and customers. If service at a shop or restaurant is slow, are you likely to return or would you take your business elsewhere? The fact that service is slow, is often due to absence related staff shortages and regardless of how fast or how hard those staff who are present work, sometimes service will suffer and so will that business and its reputation.
Our tips for effective absence management
It’s impossible to stop employees from being absent, but at HRX we have three top tips for effective absence management that will help you and your business to put in place essential processes. Our HRX software provides your business with indispensable absence management solutions so that absenteeism can be effectively recorded, monitored and resolved.
First up recording. When a member of staff is absent it’s vitally important to record this information. That may seem really obvious but so many businesses don’t record the days and reasons of why staff are absent let alone have any other element of effective absence management in place. If you’re currently not recording absence at all, or notes are made in a diary or on a spreadsheet then that’s messy, doesn’t provide you with easily accessible data and won’t allow you to see if and where you have absence issues.
By using HRX’s simple absence recording tool, you are starting down the path of effective absence management. Who is absent, when and why can be quickly and easily recorded in the software and the absence will then show on your employee management dashboard. When the absent colleague returns you can close down the absence and it’s good practice to use the return to work form from the HRX Knowledge Base to ensure that the member of staff is fit and well enough to be back in work. It will also allow you to ask all the right questions to look after their wellbeing and to meet your HR obligations.
That form can then be uploaded to the employee’s record so that it can be reviewed in future as and when needed. If you have persistent absentees and you end up in an absence related disciplinary situation then having complete records is really useful. Some staff may try to dispute absence records, including dates and reasons. By recording data in HRX and saving return to work forms that they have signed as accurate the evidence you need is irrefuatble.
HRX’s absence management solutions don’t just stop at recording either, recording and monitoring absence is crucial so that you can monitor absences either for individuals, teams or across your whole business. Our absence reports will help you to identify trends and patterns of absence, they will keep you informed about staff who have hit your absence triggers and will highlight any issues. Recording and monitoring absences means that you can get ahead of related issues and take steps to resolve them before they damage your business.
Once staff are aware that a pro-active approach to absence management is taking place, then you’re moving into the final stage which is to resolve absence issues. According to CIPD data published by Personnel Today, 85% of managers they surveyed believe that more than 30 per cent of absence is not due to genuine ill-health. Staff though are far less likely to try and take a sick day which may not be genuine when they know that they’ll have to look their manager in the eye during a return to work meeting.
However, the majority of absence is genuine and recording and monitoring can also help you to put measures in place to support staff as and when needed. Preventative, proactive steps to support staff can then lead to reduced absence as you help employees to manage any conditions which they may suffer from. This resolution also helps to build engagement and productivity as staff appreciate the support they receive and want to pay their employer back.
How can HRX help?
By using HRX as your absence management software and following our three simple tips outlined above, you are applying a fair, consistent and effective approach to absence management. Your business will have an efficient process that has employee wellbeing at its heart. Sign up now for a free 30 day trial and feel better about sickness.