Employees are valuable, talented resources that propel a business forward. Just like a well-oiled machine, each employee contributes like a distinct unit so that the entire office operates fully.
In the course of managing employees, leaders have to manage employee absences. There can be multiple reasons why employees miss work. There are family emergencies, dental appointments, picking up a sick child from school, or other personal matters. Also, there may be times when unwanted sickness, illness, surgery, or any injury may cause an employee to be absent. The result? A decrease in productivity, resources, and even strain on other employees who have to cover the extra work.
If employee absences are causing a problem for your company, it is time to create a robust absence management policy. It is a set of procedures, policies, or guidelines geared towards reducing employee absences. By decreasing the number of days that employees miss work, workplace disruptions can be prevented.
What is the role of HR in an absence management policy?
The creation, development, and promotion of an absence management policy is led by the human resources team. Absence management policies are unique to the needs of an organization. While the motivation behind each policy is similar, no two absence management policies are the same. Each company has to determine its standards and guidelines.
The HR team works closely with the organization’s leaders to ensure that the policy is communicated and implemented to all employees, at all levels of work - from those who hold entry-level roles to the CEO.
Since it is a company-wide policy, information on absence management could be part of new employee orientations. HR managers could also hold regular training on policy examples and implementation.
What are some things to consider in making an absence management policy?
In developing an absence management policy, HR and the company leaders should put their heads together and think about potential reasons and scenarios that cause employees to miss work.
Some scenarios to consider are:
Short-term absence because of illness
Long-term absence because of surgery, injury, accident, or serious illness
Any unauthorized absence or leave
Parental or caregiver leave
Outlining these examples will help create procedures for particular situations that may arise. The absence management policy should have clear guidelines for each type of absence or leave.
What are some examples of absence management policy must-haves?
To be effective, an absence management policy should be clear, consistent, and fair to all. An absence management policy should provide a consistent and impartial process to help managers deal with employee absences. The policy should cover the procedure employees should follow if they need to miss work. Who do they notify? When do they inform the manager? How do they do it? Additionally, they should also know what to expect once they return to work. In cases of long absence periods, there are return-to-work procedures, work plans, and interviews to make their transition to work easier.
Lastly, an absence management policy should also have a statement that covers arrangements on pay for missed workdays. The policy should state how many sick days or time off an employee can have before they are no longer covered by paid time off. In cases of problems resulting from an employee’s persistent absences, the policy should explain any disciplinary actions that can be implemented.
What are helpful ways in implementing an absence management policy?
Having an absence management policy that is fair, objective, and clear is key to its successful implementation. A policy that is tailored to a company’s needs is key. Establishing a good balance between providing sufficient time off for an employee’s needs when they are sick and managing for unnecessary absences is essential. While it is ideal that most reasons for missed days are genuine, companies should keep an eye out for any trend or pattern that develops over time. Maintaining a record of absences is important. This allows for data to be gathered and studied for reference and the development of other policies.
Return to work interviews is also an effective way to help enforce an absence management policy. This opens up the line of communication between an employee and a manager to find out if further help is needed. For example, the employee might need one day off every week to care for a sick family member. The company might be able to allow a work-from-home arrangement once a week during this time. This will help both the employee and the productivity of the company.
Keep in mind that beyond focusing on the number of missed days, try to think about encouraging employees to work. Establish the importance of productivity and collaboration and other benefits of going to work.
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