Managing absence is difficult, employees taking time away from work, while often inconvenient and costly, is an unavoidable part of running a company. However, while employee absence can’t be avoided – it can be managed and have less of an impact on your business. With that goal in mind, here are 5 tips for better absence management:

Consider every type of absence

There are different kinds of absence, with each presenting its own set of challenges. This includes annual leave, short and long-term sickness absence, stress leave, maternity and paternity leave, and life absences – such as bereavement leave.

To start, identify the types of absence your business has encountered most and is likely to face in the future, then create a management strategy for each. This should include how the absence leaves your company vulnerable, what you can do to prevent and/or deal with it when it arises, and, crucially, how to best support the affected employee.

Encourage staff to take time off

Employees becoming unnecessarily burnt out is the cause of a lot of absence, so you should encourage them to take frequent time away from work. One way of achieving this is developing a workplace culture in which staff don’t feel guilty about taking their entire annual leave allowance.

However, you may need to be proactive with particular employees: taking a look at their habits in regard to taking time off and actually prescribing leave if you feel that break from work would improve their wellbeing and productivity.

Promote healthy habits

In effort to curb sickness absence, promote being healthy. This could include subsiding gym subscriptions, providing filtered water and fresh fruit, and arranging discounts with healthy food vendors. More creative ways to encourage a healthier lifestyle include some kind of bonus for employees that take fewer sick days and rewarding those that manage to quit smoking.

Not only are you far more likely to prevent absence through short and long-term sickness, stress, and injury but there’s a strong likelihood they’ll be happier and more productive at work.

Create flexible working practices

Offering flexible working options, such as remote working or flexi-time, provide an alternative to absence, helping to manage it as a result. It allows employees to work around their difficulties: Instead of calling in sick when they’re feeling under the weather, they can work at home, remaining productive. Similarly, if an employee needs a few hours to deal with something, on short notice, they can start earlier that day – or make up the time elsewhere.

Communicate with your employees

One of the most underrated methods of managing absence is better communication with staff.

Now, while an employee that’s been absent for more than 3 consecutive days is often interviewed by management upon their return. This allows HR to determine if they’re fit to work and if they’re likely to be away any longer.

Such employees are easy to pinpoint, but others, like those who periodically call in sick, can go about undetected until something drastic happens that results in a long absence.
It’s possible that these employees have an issue, bubbling just beneath the surface, that could be preventing from boiling over with an earnest conversation: simply mention that you’ve noticed their frequent sick days and wondered if there’s any way you can help.

On one hand, it may be nothing but there’s also every chance that your show of concern makes all the difference, leading to your employee confiding in you that they’ve been struggling. Something as simple as allowing them to work from home once or twice a week, for example, could make a world of difference to an employee on the verge of burnout.