The Imperative of Absence Management Tracking: Why Many Companies Fall Short

According to the Conference Board of Canada, absenteeism is costing Canadian businesses $16.6 billion per year, yet only 46% of companies are actively tracking absences, and of those businesses, 52% say that this is not a pressing need.

A sizable portion of absence costs are avoidable. Reducing avoidable absences starts with tracking and measurement. If the cost of absenteeism were a line item on the profit and loss statement, it would get a lot more attention (and resources) from the CFO.

So why are so many companies not tracking absenteeism costs?

Challenges of Absence Tracking

  1. Outdated systems.

Getting accurate data on absenteeism can be difficult. Many companies still rely on outdated systems, such as Excel-based or paper-based methods, to track employee absences.  These systems are inefficient and prone to errors, leading to a backlog of work and potential mistakes.

As businesses grow, these systems become increasingly inadequate, making it difficult for HR managers and team leads to monitor absences effectively.

  1. Manual Processes

Manual logging and tracking employee absences can be tedious, time-consuming, and prone to human error.

HR managers often invest significant time and effort in manual attendance tracking, which can lead to inaccuracies and payroll discrepancies.

Additionally, manual processes limit data-driven decision-making due to a lack of real-time insights.

In an absence management program audit by Workplace Medical Corp. for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), one of the areas of concern was that the whole process was paper-based and lacked person-to-person communication and support. This process lacked effective engagement with employees, potentially overlooking their health and wellness requirements.

  1. Differentiating between types of absences

Not all absences are the same. Distinguishing between chronic and occasional absenteeism can be challenging but is essential for addressing the root causes.

  • Chronic Absenteeism: Frequent and persistent absence of a person from the workplace. It is usually addressed too late due to a lack of absence-tracking tools and poor policies.
  • Occasional Absenteeism: Normal absences that cannot be planned for sick days, childcare, household problems, etc. It does not impact workers’ productivity.
  1. Lack of strategic focus

If absence management is not viewed as a strategic issue, there is less motivation and requirement for tracking. A strategic plan to reduce avoidable absences requires data to track goals and objectives and for analytics.

Our absence management audits confirm that organizations that do not have a strategic plan to manage absences also do not sufficiently track absenteeism in the detail required. See our case study for Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

Contact us to book your 30-minute free consultation about enhancing your absence management strategy

Overcoming the challenges of absence tracking

  1. Absence management systems

Companies need to invest in automated absence management systems to address these challenges. Tying the investment in automation to a larger strategic plan for reducing avoidable absences should overcome any cost objections.

These systems offer user-friendly features, real-time data, and seamless collaboration, allowing for more efficient and accurate tracking of employee absences. Saving time for employers means more time to tackle primary tasks, which increases productivity.

Additionally, the absence management system should be rules-based to automate and fairly implement your absence management policies.

  1. Call centers

One of the most significant “leaks” in an absence management program is not getting early and accurate absence information. Too often, messages are left on voicemail, or the supervisor is delayed in entering the absence or communicating it to HR and other stakeholders.

A call center to answer absence calls will ensure the data is captured from “Day 0” and the right questions are asked to record the absence correctly. The call center would then input the data into your absence management system.

The absence management system should then be able to automatically communicate the absence to get “the right information to the right people at the right time”. For example, if a rule is broken, HR should be notified. If it is an extended medical leave, occupational health should be notified

Benefits of Efficient Tracking and Measurement

Efficient tracking and measurement of absenteeism addresses the critical requirements of an effective absence management program.

  1. Early intervention

Tracking from “Day 0” and getting the information early to the right people prevents absences and helps to prevent avoidable time loss.

  1. Support for supervisors

Proper tracking tools empower supervisors with actionable data, enabling them to address absenteeism effectively.

  1. Forward-looking analytics

While HR software primarily focuses on who was present, absence software emphasizes those missing, prompting the question of what proactive measures are being taken

  1. Program management

Efficient systems act as “locks on the gate,” ensuring that there are no leaks in the process and that absenteeism is effectively managed

Learn more about the benefits of efficient tracking and measurement

How Workplace Medical Corp. can help

Workplace Medical Corp’s absence management consultants can work with you to review your absence management program and understand the total costs and the “leaks” in your program that lead to avoidable absences.

We then work with you to develop a multiyear strategic plan and stay on to support the implementation. We have worked with organizations in the private and public sectors, achieving significant and measurable results. Our absence management strategy helped Guelph General Hospital decrease absenteeism by 25% (16 to 12 days per year), resulting in $2.8 million in annual savings.

Our advanced absence management software and integrated call center ensure seamless integration of these strategies into your existing processes. By partnering with us, you gain access to the tools and expertise required to make absenteeism management a seamless part of your operations.

Contact WMC for a free initial consultation with one of our absence management consultants

In conclusion, Workplace Medical Corp. offers practical solutions to the challenge of absence tracking. Our focus is on results, not buzzwords. By streamlining the process with automated systems and providing real-time data, we help organizations save time and resources. We understand the need for a strategic approach and early intervention, which translates into cost savings and improved productivity.

Workplace Medical Corp. is your partner for effective absence management, delivering tangible benefits for your organization. Reach out today to explore how we can make a difference for you.