Human Resources

Absent Without Leave

Read in 5 min. Pointers to successful Absence Management
Hire Carole S. , a brainy Business Speaker from Harrow, United Kingdom | Expertbase

Carole S.

A Business Speaker from
Harrow, United Kingdom

Carole is available for projects both virtually and in-person.
Comments
50 Claps
1561 Words
3.26 K
With stress, anxiety and depression having overtaken physical ailments as the most common cause of long-term absence from work, and sickness absence reportedly costing employers an average of £522 per employee per year (or ten lost working days), there are good reasons to look closely at the root causes of absenteeism and, where possible, provide early intervention to support employees in regaining their health.


Short-Term Absence

Short-term absence is usually defined as a period of absence of less than ten consecutive working days, and will usually be as a result of the employee suffering from a minor medical condition.

Persistent short-term sickness is one of the most common problems employers have to face. Arranging temporary cover when an employee is off sick may not always be viable, and is often both disruptive and costly. Many employers therefore adopt the approach of persuading existing employees to cover for absentees on an ad hoc basis.

While this may work in the short term, when applied over longer periods it puts pressure on existing staff, as they struggle to do their own work in addition to that of an absent colleague. The effect of this on staff morale can be damaging and counter-productive. Staff frequently feel resentful if required to do two jobs -often within the same timescale and for no extra remuneration. The situation may be further compounded when the absentee employee returns to work and is met with resentment from those who have had to cover for them during their absence.


Long-Term Absence

Long-term absence is defined as any period of absence in excess of ten consecutive working days. Such absence -particularly where it is stress-related -presents a different problem for employers. In the short-term they may feel able to cover an absence internally, whereas in the longer term it may be necessary to recruit temporary staff who will normally require induction training and may not necessarily fit in well with existing teams. Temporary staff will also increase the salaries and wages bill, as well as involving the payment of costly agency fees.

After a long-term absence, a phased return to work will most certainly be recommended, with possible training needed to support the employee ‘back into work'. Where rehabilitation is not an option, the costs of premature retirement due to ill-health will also need to be taken into account. Stress therefore has a quantifiable impact not only on health, safety and individual wellbeing, but on the operational and financial performance of the organisation as a whole.

Of even more importance is the monitoring of short-term absences that may be the first sign of excessive pressure. Typically, absences that tend to fall into a pattern (e.g. if an employee is off sick every Monday), or are linked to particular operational requirements (such as reporting periods) are the most likely to be stress-related. It's therefore important to look initially at the pattern of absence, rather than the reasons given for it.

Stress is typically under-reported as a reason for absence -especially in the early stages -with alternatives such as colds, back pain, migraine or general fatigue being given instead. This under-reporting can occur for a number of reasons. For example, it may be that the individual has not recognised that they might be suffering from stress, or they may be reluctant to admit, either to others or themselves, that this is the real problem. There is often a stigma attached to stress, related to a perceived inadequacy or inability to cope. This exacerbates the problem by creating an artificial barrier to its identification and management.


A successful absence management policy will ideally create a culture enabling any individual to admit to stress-related ill-health, without feeling that their future employment or career prospects may be damaged. Clearly, the earlier that specific sources of stress are identified,
the sooner appropriate action can be taken to reduce the poor attendance that often ensues.

In order to establish a level of control over sickness absence, and to implement an effective policy, it's advisable to analyse employee data including the following:


* The number of days lost per year.
* The number of employees taking leave of absence.
* The average length of absence per employee.
* The employees and department(s) with the worst - and best - record of absence.
* Are there any identifiable absence patterns?
* Is absence influenced, for example, by age, gender, the number of years in the job or seasonal variations?
* How many employees take their maximum paid sickness entitlement in a year?
* Who takes the greater proportion of sick leave or other absence during the year –workers, staff or management?


The reasons for the various types and frequency of absence should then be assessed, including the following:


* Is a particular job too stressful or too boring?
* Is the work dangerous or does it require too much physical effort?
* Is the working environment unsuitable?
* Is management weak or over-aggressive?
* Is morale poor?
* Is there a culture of taking days off at particular times?
* Do working practices lack organisational support?
* Is there a general lack of incentive and motivation?


When all this information has been collated and analysed, it can then be used to devise policies and procedures in consultation with staff representatives that should, when properly implemented, substantially reduce the incidence of absence.
This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Carole S. who travels from Harrow, United Kingdom. Carole is available for Professional Speaking Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

Comments
Your thoughts matter - more than you can imagine.

More Articles by Carole
4 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers

More Articles written / submitted by Carole S.
Workplace Related

Culture Is Everything!

The Need For A 'Healthy' Workplace Culture
7 min
50
3.12 K
More Articles written / submitted by Carole S.
Diversity, Equality

Diversity Is 'Value Added'

Managing diversity isn't just a moral and legal obligation, it can present tangible business benefits as well.
8 min
50
4.21 K
More Articles written / submitted by Carole S.
Communication

How To Prevent Email Overload

Question: I run a small business and I'm at my wits' end trying to hold back the constant tide of incoming emails. What can I do?
4 min
50
2.94 K
More Articles written / submitted by Carole S.
Communication

All The Rage!

Top Anger Management Tips
8 min
50
2.97 K

More 'Human Resources' Articles
9 more Articles that may interest you, too...

Barry C. : How Incompetent Are You?
Human Resources

How Incompetent Are You?

By Barry C.
Do you have a Role Description (RD) for your current job? Or are you still working from some out-dated Job Description (JD)? Do you know the difference? Is yours one of those companies who insists on talking about "benchmarking" but without really understanding how dangerous that can be, done incorrectly!
4 min
50
4.54 K
Albert Einstein (Expertbase) : Pros & Cons Of Pay For Performance
Human Resources

Pros & Cons Of Pay For Performance

By Albert Einstein (Expertbase)
PRO+ Profile
(5 Reviews)
Somewhere in Corporate America, a human resources manager is tweaking her company's employee-incentive program. Maybe she's dumping last year's customized giveaways for this year's weekend getaway packages. Perhaps she's jettisoning the annual casino-awards party in favor of discreet distribution of personalized thank-you cards. What drives her is the theory that rewards and bonuses motivate employees to do their jobs better.
12 min
60
21.27 K
Mubeena M. : High-Involvement Organizations
Human Resources

High-Involvement Organizations

By Mubeena M.
Challenging the structures and values of traditional organizations, locating the right mix of power, information, rewards, and knowledge (also known as PIRK) at all levels, encouraging employee commitment to the success of the organization, and utilizing an employee-centered approach as opposed to a control-oriented approach to management
54 min
146
52.12 K
Mubeena M. : Development Of Rater Training Programs
Human Resources

Development Of Rater Training Programs

By Mubeena M.
How organizations may train their raters to decrease biases, increase accuracy of evaluations, increase behavioral accuracy to improve observational skills, and finally, increase rater confidence.
31 min
187
46.47 K
Mubeena M. : How To Land Your First Job - And Love It.
Human Resources

How To Land Your First Job - And Love It.

By Mubeena M.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the job hunt! I know it sounds like a difficult thing to do but if you don't feel joy in the process, your new job will take a while to find you.
7 min
50
6.34 K
James A. : Top 8 Signs Your Workplace Needs Help
Human Resources

Top 8 Signs Your Workplace Needs Help

By James A.
These are trying times. Companies are fighting each other over talented workers, budgets are being squeezed as the world economy struggles, and we've become a nation of stressed-out imbalanced employees.
7 min
50
3.83 K
Sid R. : Employees Want Simple Things In Life
Human Resources

Employees Want Simple Things In Life

By Sid R.
It's a tough and competitive business world. Everyone is faced with rising taxes, increasing insurance and energy costs which, in turn, are causing feelings of discomfort and uncertainty. And, for many organizations, finding (and keeping) great people is becoming a challenge...
4 min
50
4.45 K
Allan M. : Peer Appraisal - A More Productive Method?
Human Resources

Peer Appraisal - A More Productive Method?

By Allan M.
If managers can demonstrate the skills and are not afraid to trust their employees, then peer appraisal can work for both manager and the team, and work incredibly well. But make no mistake - it is very, very tough in the short term.
8 min
50
4.39 K
50
Back to top