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How to avoid the domino effect of unwanted absence

How to avoid the domino effect of unwanted absence

by Nick Gallimore, Managing Director - People Management

Good absence management strategy is vital when it comes to insulating yourself from unexpected disruption and ensuring business continuity and success, no matter the circumstances. Unchecked absences can cause an unacceptable domino effect for your business, which in turn can compound existing challenges and stresses presented by times of crisis.

When challenging times make their presence known, businesses across all sectors want to ensure a strong sense of continuity in the face of disruption. Absences represent a significant roadblock to operational efficiency and the tools and policies organisations have in place could be the deciding factor which determines success.

What is absence management in HR?

Absence management describes the various policies and processes which provide HR teams with the oversight they need in order to identify problem areas around sickness absence and drive discussion with employees who may be struggling. Having a clear understanding of absence patterns in the workplace allows HR leaders to tackle any problems head on, understanding and identifying any issues employees may have before they spiral out of control, leading to disruptions of the workforce.

Why is absence management important?

Absence management will play a vital role in ensuring the viability of their business strategies moving forward. Having a clear understanding of absences within your organisation allows you to mitigate the financial impacts of workplace disruption and by monitoring sickness patterns, your HR teams are able to effectively engage with employees regarding sick leave and any difficulties they may be having, effectively demonstrating your company’s commitment to employee wellbeing.

Some uncomfortable truths about absence

There are some very blunt statistics surrounding absence which serves to highlight just what a crucial element of your people management function it is. A survey by the CIPD found that businesses lose on average £550 per employee in costs related to sick leave or unexpected absences. If left unchecked, these costs can spiral out of control and the working days lost to absence can have far wider reaching impacts on business continuity.

Challenges presented by poor absence management

  • Lack of visibility- Older, more manual forms of recording absences and leave allowances can lead to a muddying of the waters and a lot of confusion both for employees and their HR teams. It is all too easy for more analogue input processes to become lost in the shuffle, leading to a breakdown in communication.

  • Issues around staffing and resourcing- Ineffective oversight of absences within an organisation can lead to some businesses finding themselves caught out and scrambling to find appropriate cover for the absent employee.

  • Financial impacts- As well as safeguarding the wellbeing of your employees, having oversight of employee absence can also help in greatly reducing the impact that sick leave can have on businesses financially. Effective oversight of sick leave will be vital in mitigating costs that come from a disruption to the workforce. 

  • Presenteeism- Ineffective communication around absences and employee expectations can have a knock on effect on employees. If absence is seen as a taboo within an organisation, this can lead to a culture of presenteeism where employees feel pressured to be at work more than necessary, never making use of their leave allowances in order to rest and reset themselves. An exhausted workforce will inevitably find themselves increasingly disengaged and less productive.

Steps you can take to improve absence management

Organisations will need to consider the steps they need to take in order to foster a supportive and proactive approach to absence management:

  • Set out clear expectations around absences and policies: Let your people know that absences are an accepted and normal part of working life. Ensure you have the agility in your set up to account for everyday occurrences of absence, be they planned or otherwise.

  • Be empathetic and empower your HR people to drive discussions with employees around the causes of absence: One of the key contributing factors to employee absence is stress. As organisations begin to reconcile themselves with a largely hybrid workforce, it is important that their HR systems and processes are robust enough to enable them to effectively engage with employees and head off potential pain points before they spiral into long term absence.

  • Free your HR people from absence admin: Comprehensive time and attendance software solutions now give the power to the individual employee to have visibility of their own leave allowances and empower them to push through their own requests. Self service functionality is an increasingly popular demand for organisations looking to take some of the burden away from their people teams.

  • Time and attendance systems offer you the information you need in real time. This means never being caught out by absences and ensuring that you can gather together the staff and resources you need to guarantee productivity even when the most key employees are taking a break and to guarantee accurate pay.

What’s next?

Visibility around absences and the ability to be agile in your staffing will be key factors in helping overcome the challenges presented by sickness or unexpected absence. Furthermore, how you support your workforce during times of absence forms a core part of the people experience within your workplace- employees who are treated with kindness and empathy will be much more willing to return to work as soon as possible, not to mention that fostering a supportive working environment can go a long way towards helping reduce the need for absence as a result of stress or burnout.

As with most areas of your business, the systems and technology at your disposal can be the make or break point which determines your ability to drive forward success. At Advanced, we’ve created our Time and Attendance solution with the goal in mind of giving organisations an unparalleled overview of their operational structure  and the agility and flexibility they need to cover shifts and ensure a greater degree of business continuity, regardless of the disruption.

Book a demo today with one of our friendly team members and discover how Advanced Time and Attendance can help you avoid the domino effect of unwanted absence.

Nick Gallimore

Nick Gallimore


Managing Director - People Management

Nick is a Talent Management specialist, who has spent his entire career working with organisations looking to transform the way they hire, develop and manage their people. He works with our HR software customers, providing specialist consulting and advice around all aspects of the Talent Management lifecycle, helping them to deliver their strategic people aims.

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