By: Steve Arnold, Founder, Edays
It’s easy for businesses to overlook absence management processes, viewing a robust solution as a ‘nice-to-have’ – but this is far from the case. The risks of a disparate, manual-based system extend far beyond time consuming processes and a lack of data visibility: in fact, if you’re lagging behind with absence management, your business may be opening itself to damaging and long-lasting consequences.
With 44% of HR leaders claiming that absence and its impacts are only discussed ‘sometimes’ at board level meetings, it would seem that this ‘nice-to-have’ way of thinking is far too common in the UK. Yet it is now more than ever, as we emerge and begin to recover from the pandemic, at a time when some businesses look to expand into new geographies, that minimising potential risks within your absences processes, can lead to maximising growth and overall help to support a swifter recovery.
After surveying HR professionals we found that 63% of people considered that their internal processes put them at risk of being an absence hazard or absence sufferer. Below are three risks that ignoring absence management could lead to, and how you can combat these risks with technology.
Do you know the legal requirements of each location you operate in, or is your business opening itself to a hefty compliance fine? For growing businesses the temptation to stick with processes that work for your team in one country, and mirror these in expanding markets is high.
But, for many organisations, they fall foul to nuanced regulations and laws which even local employees may be unaware of. Furthermore, absence policies that are reliant on paper-based forms can pose a compliance risk if records are not kept consistent and rely on managers and the company’s HR department to remember small bits of information.
Automating your absence management means that sensitive data can be housed securely. What’s more, sickness policies are not reliant on management and the HR teams’ memory.
Poor employee wellbeing
Another risk of ignoring absence management is that it will impact your workforce satisfaction. Having very little visibility of employee absence means that you are missing potential issues in your workforce. Perhaps employees aren’t taking enough holiday and are showing signs of burnout, without proper data it will be hard for management to get to the bottom of and implement initiatives to encourage staff to take regular time off.
A centralised system can enable HR teams to swiftly detect trends and patterns in employee absences. Too little might indicate a problem. Equally with paper-based processes holiday requests and return to work interviews can be easily lost or overlooked. Without a system in place, this can lead to financial repercussions for the business that can add up and cost companies a lot of money.
Absence management systems allow you to track employee absences, better understand trends, and, with strategic deployment, will highlight to a workforce that the business cares about absence. It demonstrates that they want to understand if employees feel overworked or unhappy with changing schedules, and offers management an easy way to bring up these issues in team calls or 1-2-1 meetings. With many organisations unable to offer their staff increased pay packages, a great alternative is looking at the rest of the Employer Value Proposition, and identifying which benefits can be tweaked or improved. Absence can most certainly form part of this proposition and will be looked at favourably.
Lagging behind the competition
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a huge shift by organisations in many industries to streamline processes and to automate manual tasks. For the world of absence management, the time-consuming nature of paper-based processes is a headache felt far too frequently by HR teams. Manual processes drain resources and make efficiency difficult. If teams operate in different geographies, then these multiple disconnected systems lead to inaccurate and hard to analyse data, which ultimately is a loss to the business.
Industries that coped better during the pandemic were those better equipped to meet the technology demands that remote working required, whether they be the tech giants of the world or scaling startups. Streamlining internal processes plays a key part in the bigger picture of a successful organisation. If individuals are able to do their jobs to the best of their ability with the right tools, then efficiency and productivity go up. Equally if processes are kept online and visible to all, absences aren’t missed or forgotten about, and management are able to support those that need it, and employees are able to request time off in an easier fashion rather than wasting time filling out a paper form. The benefit to businesses that invest in absence management is huge. Tasks are streamlined, employees are happier, and data is readily available. The past year has highlighted a need to streamline and automate many processes, and as the majority of the working population is likely to remain remote working, at least for the foreseeable future, teams need better ways to manage absence.