GlossaryHR

The Essential List of Human Resource Definitions You Need to Know

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Absence Management

What is Absence Management?

Employee Absence management is the process of accruing, tracking, coordinating, and facilitating employee time off. There are many reasons that employees may be absent from work. Some are unexpected while others are planned far in advance. Managing the various kinds of employee absence improves team cohesion, efficiency and productivity.

Absence management goes beyond paid time off or PTO tracking to include leave for illness, family medical emergencies and other forms of employee sick leave. PTO is typically accrued or otherwise allocated to employees and includes vacation, sick, and personal time. This form of time off is usually popular with employees because it provides more control over how that earned time is used.

What are the benefits of absence management?

  • Saves money. Employee absences cost money. There is little debate over the cost of lost time. The average employee is absent for seven days per year. Minor illnesses are the primary cause of short-term absence.
  • Protects productivity. Lost productivity due to workforce disruption is an area that is rarely measured. When employees cover for an absent co-worker, extra effort results in lower efficiency. Employee engagement suffers when there is too much to cover.
  • Supports compliance. An effective employee absence plan will guard against lawsuits and fines for non-compliance with regulations.

What is an absence communication plan?

It is important to include all employees in an absence communication plan. A good employee absence plan will help set employee expectations. Communicating with absent and present employees is critical. Employees who understand expectations are more likely to align with company objectives.

Use time and attendance plus scheduling and PTO tracking to track employee attendance. Without time and attendance data from your employees, you will not have a basis for a plan. Accurate data is critical, and without an automated system, you risk working with bad data.

Should I conduct return to work interviews?

One of the more common best practices is the return to work interview. Return to work interviews are an effective way to reduce absences. Keep in mind, however, that they only address the problem after the fact. They are most effective when used as part of a comprehensive plan. Return-to-work interviews are best for employees who have been out for longer than a week. Offer new orientation and reset goals and objectives. Use the time to communicate plan policies and establish engagement.

What are some ways to improve absence management?

There are many actions that you can take to improve your absence management. These steps have a side benefit of often increasing employee retention.

  • Remote working. Allow employees to work from home.
  • Flexible work schedules. Flexible scheduling is one of the most important employee benefits. One recent study showed that 80% of applicants place flexible scheduling as the most important benefit they seek. Employers who offer some flexibility in scheduling tend to retain employees better and maintain a higher morale.
  • Shift management. Make it easy for employees to pickup open shifts and drop shifts with manager approval.
  • PTO management. Give employees access to their PTO balances and simplify PTO requests.

See also

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