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Recording and Managing Employee Absence and Sickness

Employee absence can be a costly problem for many businesses, as well as affecting workflow and putting pressure on the rest of the workforce. A 2011 report found that a public services organisation employing 1000 people will have an absenteeism cost of around £889,000. How can employee sickness and absenteeism be managed?

The first step in managing staff sickness is recording and understanding it. By accurately recording sickness days you’ll able to see patterns, whether it’s one employee who is absent frequently or a number of staff members stating the same reason for sickness.

Recording and Making Contact

Keep a log of sickness days and the reasons given by the employee. You should keep the log up to date and include as much information as possible. An easy way to keep track of staff sickness is with a workforce management tool which automatically records the hours accumulated and staff absence. It alerts a manager if a member of staff doesn’t clock in when they are meant to, indicating sickness or reason for concern.

It’s also important to keep in touch with members of staff who are off sick. If it is a short term illness, you should expect the staff member back to work within a couple of days and they should keep you updated. However if it’s long term, such as stress, depression or a physical injury which keeps them at home, then you should contact them every few weeks and ask about their wellbeing. In some cases it may not be appropriate to ask when they are coming back to work, but simply making contact and asking how they are makes them feel like a valued employee. When they do return to work, it is also useful to conduct a Return to Work interview to see how you can prevent them becoming ill again and support them with the transition if they have been off sick for a long time.

Wellbeing Programmes

There are other things employers can do to try and cut down on staff absence. Introducing a workplace health and wellbeing programme is an effective way to encourage staff to lead a healthy lifestyle which can prevent illness. The Department of Health 2011 research found that physically active employees take 27% fewer sick days, and physical activity programmes at work have been found to reduce absenteeism by 20%.