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What is absence management?

Absence management focuses on reducing unplanned employee absenteeism, a concern growing post-COVID with significant financial implications. Beyond monetary costs, it affects workflow, productivity, and service quality. A proactive approach, aided by modern tracking tools, ensures optimal productivity, employee well-being, and consistent service standards.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

Absence management is the strategic approach taken by employers to control and reduce unplanned employee absenteeism, ensuring minimal disruption and maximizing workforce productivity.

Every employee plays a pivotal role in the success of an organization. When employees are absent, especially unexpectedly, it can disrupt the workflow, leading to decreased productivity and potential financial losses.

This is where absence management comes into play. It’s a little different from time-off management, which covers pre-approved and pre-planned time off.

What is absence management?

Absence management is a program designed to control absences due to various reasons such as illness, injury, or other emergencies. It encompasses policies and action plans tailored to monitor and reduce unplanned leaves, which are absences not scheduled in advance or those that employers cannot predict or control.

Examples include short-term sick leave, long-term medical leaves, lateness, unauthorized leaves, and more.

Why is absence management important?

Absence management is crucial for several reasons.

The importance of effective absence management cannot be overstated. From a financial perspective, unplanned absences can be a significant drain on resources.

Since 2019, organizations believing in underreported absences rose from 36% to 55% by 2023, post-COVID.

Average absence days per employee annually increased by 2.6 days since pre-COVID times.

The direct cost of absence per employee surged from $3,395 to $4,025. Four out of five (80%) surveyed companies attributed increased absences to COVID restrictions.

Beyond the monetary implications, absenteeism directly affects the productivity of an organization.

Tasks might face delays, or the overall quality of work could see a decline.

Furthermore, when some employees are absent, others might have to shoulder additional responsibilities, leading to increased stress and potential burnout.

This can have a cascading effect, where the increased workload on present employees might lead to further absences.

Moreover, in sectors where customer or client interaction is frequent, inconsistent staffing can lead to a decline in the quality of service provided.

Benefits of absence management

The benefits of a well-implemented absence management system are manifold. For starters, it leads to improved productivity.

By proactively addressing and reducing the root causes of absenteeism, companies can maintain a consistent and productive workforce. This, in turn, translates to cost savings.

Fewer unplanned absences mean fewer disruptions and a more streamlined operation.

Additionally, by fostering a supportive work environment where absenteeism is addressed, companies can boost employee morale and job satisfaction.

Lastly, in customer-facing roles, consistent staffing ensures that clients and customers receive a uniform and high standard of service.

How to track absence?

To get a grip on absence management, it’s imperative for organizations to have a robust system in place to track all instances of absenteeism.

Modern tools, such as self-service HRIS systems, can be invaluable in recording and analyzing this data.

Regular reviews of this data can help organizations identify any emerging trends or patterns related to absenteeism.

Open communication is another cornerstone of effective absence management.

By ensuring that there are open channels of communication between employees and management, organizations can gain insights into the reasons behind absences and address any underlying issues.

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