With poorly managed absence causing a number of issues including; significant absence costs, reduced productivity, ineffective use of Line Manager and HR team’s time, inaccurate records and low morale; the effective monitoring of employee sickness absence is (finally) becoming a strategic priority for many UK organisations.
The Short-term Minefield
In cases of employees with frequent short-term sickness absence, employers must ensure that they have clear and robust notification procedures which are clearly communicated and followed by their employees. Accurate data for tracking this type of sickness is key as, unlike long-term sickness, the employee may not present sick notes from their GP and often doesn’t even seek any medical advice on their conditions. It is crucial that HR and Line Managers have the tools and techniques to help them quantify, monitor and manage the problem of short-term sickness absence.
As an employer, it is important to recognise and understand that there may be a variety of reasons for frequent short-term sickness absences, including:
- An underlying medical condition
- An unusually high, but genuine, vulnerability to colds, flu, etc
- Excessive tiredness e.g. the employee may have additional responsibilities outside work
- Personal or family problems
- Specific problems in the workplace
- Feeling demotivated
Navigating the Minefield
Using an objective, third party absence management service with clinical expertise, can remove the issue of employees not wanting to (or feeling able to) discuss their absence issue openly and honestly. Trained call handlers working alongside occupational health nurses ensure that the right questions are being asked, meaning absences are diligently recorded whilst also creating a relaxed, comfortable and non-judgemental environment for employees to discuss their absence reason.
This approach removes the risk introduced by the employee/manager relationship when recording the absence and ensures the employee’s journey back to full health, then back to work, starts from the minute they record their absence.