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Mastering Absence Management: Top 10 Tips

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No company will ever be able to demonstrate a 100% optimized absence record. Employee absence is an inevitable part of business life, but proper absence management prevents this from becoming a serious and costly problem.

That's why we've put together some of our best tips for absence management for you. In this context, absence management means both preventing unexpected absences (such as illness) and promoting planned absences (relaxing vacations).

We'll share ways to preventatively reduce absenteeism by making employees feel more comfortable in their workplace and provide some day-to-day management tips to help you stay on top of things.

After reviewing this information, be sure to check out our absence management guide where we explain some of these concepts in more detail.

Be prepared for different types of absence

It's not just a cold that keeps workers away from the office; There are a number of reasons that can cause an absence.

From pet emergencies to heating breakdowns to mental health issues and bereavements, the list of absence types is quite long, and they are all legitimate reasons to be away from work.

The more you know, the better. Knowing what to expect will help you prepare for possible staffing shortages, adjust staffing levels, and delegate tasks. You also have the opportunity to explain your policies for each of these types of illnesses so that employees know what their rights are.

Encourage sick days

One of the best preventative measures you can take to reduce the number of absences due to illness is the so-called "sick days", which allow your employees to take care of their health even if they do not suffer from certain problems.

This could be a visit to your GP for a check-up, an appointment with a therapist to discuss your concerns, a spa appointment for the ultimate relaxation, or a physiotherapy session for a deep tissue massage. It's about being physically and mentally healthy. And that's exactly what prevents you from needing a break later.

Create a culture that promotes recovery

When you're exhausted and burned out, your immune system weakens - and that means illness. And a lot. Taking time out to relax is the best way to avoid this.

Encouraging your employees to go home on time, forget about work and take breaks will help them stay healthy and use their time at work productively.

This also includes providing appropriate holiday pay and encouraging people to use it. This means that management must set a good example by doing the same.

However, unlimited vacation pay, as great as it sounds, rarely works - it makes it difficult to know when it's appropriate to take vacation.

Talk to your employees

It is much better to find out the reasons for an employee's absence than to simply note the absence and move on. If you know what's going on, maybe you can intervene. This includes discussions about returning to work, which should be a loving conversation rather than an interrogation.

They are not always suitable for one-day absences, so you may only want to do them for absences of 3 days or more.

Ask your employees: Is there anything we can do to help? Can we adjust the work environment to make you feel more comfortable? This could e.g. This could be, for example, adjusting the desk for people with back problems, different lighting for people with migraines or quieter rooms for stressed people.

Contrary to what paranoid middle managers might think, most employees don't want to call in sick all the time, but they do want a comfortable place to work. Maybe you can help.

Avoid the Bradford factor

If you're using this antiquated method of tracking and penalizing sick time, it's time to get rid of it. It is a mathematical formula that has no compassion or understanding for the reality of people's lives.

It discourages employees from taking multiple absences, but it also reduces them to a single number - not exactly conducive to building a healthy, cooperative corporate culture.

We have recorded our objections and offer some useful alternatives to the Bradford factor that are much better suited to the modern world of work.

Offer flexible work opportunities

This is a must these days because the traditional 9-5 day just doesn't suit many of us that well anymore. Later shifts for night owls or earlier shifts for parents picking up their children from school in the early afternoon are becoming more common.

There is also the option to choose different shift lengths to accommodate commitments - especially for students who spend half their days in lectures. And of course, remote work: even if it's just one day a week working from home, it can be a huge improvement in your quality of life.

These things can help people avoid having to sit in traffic - one of the most stressful things one can have in everyday life - and make things less stressful overall, leading to fewer unexpected absences.
Make sure that you take flexible workers' illness seriously, even if they stay at home. Just because someone is comfortable at home doesn't mean they're fit to work. There are a variety of illnesses that can affect your ability to work.

Do you think a completely different environment could be the solution? How about a workstation instead?

Put your policies in writing

No matter how casual and funky you want to make your company, you can't improvise when it comes to absence policies. A proper absence policy sets out the rules for taking time off and serves as a reference point for any disputes.

Ideally, they should be entertaining and interesting to read, without unnecessary jargon. It should also explain cultural attitudes towards absence, the fact that you shouldn't force yourself to work if you are sick.

It's not hard to create a policy - it might take an hour or two, but it creates a level playing field for everyone and saves a massive headache later when conflicts arise and no one has proof of anything. We have templates you can use to make it even easier.

Create a comfortable work environment

This doesn't mean so much beer fridges and other gadgets, but rather a working environment in which you can work well. That means lots of plants to oxygenate the air, comfortable seating and social areas, and quiet areas for introverts and those who need uninterrupted conversation.

Fun things like sweet treats and foosball can be a good distraction, but they're not a real solution. If you're serious about creating a comfortable and productive office, consider consulting lighting and ambient sound consultants to help you figure out where you're going wrong.

Your night workers also need to feel comfortable - make sure they aren't forgotten!

Hire the right people

It seems obvious, but hiring the right people is crucial. In an interview, you won't know a person's medical history, but making sure they're a cultural fit means they're less likely to be unexpected.

Even if it's the most qualified candidate, if their work style and personality don't fit your company, their discomfort will only grow and lead to disagreements and stress, increasing the likelihood of future absenteeism. If they love their job and their colleagues, chances are good that their absence record will look pretty good throughout the year.

Use the right tools

If you're still tracking your time away on paper - or even spreadsheets - it's probably time to upgrade. We could all do without the effort involved in manually recording absences. Luckily, we have a solution for you: visit our absence management software page to see what we can do for you.

Implementing effective absence management strategies is crucial for optimizing productivity and employee well-being. Explore these tips from IceHrm to foster a healthy workplace culture.

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