How to create a strong absence management program

Companies across the country are shifting their focus to better management of employee absences. As the pool of available workers continues to shrink due to a decreasing unemployment rate, businesses need to find ways to ensure employee absences are not excessive, according to The International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists. To do so, organizations are implementing absence management programs. Let’s take a closer look at how employers can better develop these initiatives for their workplace:

Assess the current plan
The first step organizations should take is analyzing their current procedures to ensure they’re as up to date and streamlined as possible. This process will help companies assess their program’s design as well as their leave policies to identify structural gaps employees could use to their advantage. Human resources leaders should check that all Family Medical Leave Act and other government-regulated mandates are updated. Furthermore, businesses should establish a philosophy for their program and collaborate on a list of priorities they hope the plan will fulfill, including encouraging overall wellness. With this insight, companies can make their absence management programs more efficient and effective.

Companies should assess their current policies to ensure they meet government leave requirements.
Companies should assess their current policies to ensure they meet government leave requirements.

Develop a return-to-work initiative
While some employees may space out their sick days throughout the year, others may require a longer leave of absence depending on disability or medical leave. In either circumstance, it’s crucial for workers to come back to their role in a productive manner. Companies need to implement a return-to-work element in their absence management program to ensure people reenter the workforce with as much support as possible.

This procedure could include an interactive aspect where physicians, managers and absent employees themselves collaborate to create the best return-to-work experience, according to The Society for Human Resource Management. Things like a flexible work arrangement or a reduction of travel upon re-immersion could help people ease back into their normal responsibilities at a manageable pace.

“Using absence data can help organizations understand the common reasons employees miss work.”

Initiate absence reporting
Employee absenteeism can seriously compromise productivity, negatively affecting a company’s financial performance. That’s why it’s critical for businesses to include access to worker data in their absence management program. By focusing on disability and FMLA usage patterns, as well as costs associated with employee absences, organizations can improve executive interest in the program and understand the common reasons why people miss work. Gathering information that paints a well-rounded picture of absenteeism will help company leaders create a comprehensive management procedure that reduces wasted time and money.

Distribute information on absence policies
A vital step when creating an absence management program is informing workers of current leave benefits and notification policies. While some employees may be aware of the business’s rules and follow them, others may feign lack of knowledge to take advantage of organizational procedure. It’s important for company leaders and HR teams to distribute this information in a variety of ways, including via email, through an intra-business employee portal and even by dispersing paper handouts.

People should be made aware of the rights and requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as the organization’s individual non-voluntary benefits, such as paid sick leave and extensions of injury or maternity absences, according to Inc. magazine. All of this material should be clearly spelled out and included as a basis for a business’s absence management plan. Workers should also know the requirements for notifying the appropriate leaders regarding their absenteeism and how it will be addressed when they return.

It is a necessity, now more than ever, for companies to develop an absence management program for employees. These programs can help businesses reduce the number of unscheduled, excessive and unexplained employee absences while keeping productivity at an efficient level. By assessing the current plan, creating a return-to-work process, utilizing worker data and making sure to distribute all program information, organizations can make sure they don’t lose time and money thanks to lost productivity.