In 2013 Absence Management is a more popular topic than ever before. From the growth in outsourced absence management services to the nationwide proposals of Dame Carol Black and Sir David Frost’s Sickness Absence Review, a consistent, urgent consensus exists; that absence rates are too high; that the associated costs are cutting too deep and that swift action needs to be taken.“Absence” Trends
There are some very obvious trends in absence, trends that, to some extent or another, will exist in all organisations and serve as a solid basis on which to tackle the issue of absence. From a review conducted by FirstCare, of more than 8 million days of absence across 100,000 employees in the last 36 months, these trends are that:
- Just 10% of employees account for 36.4% of the days lost to absence. This means that significant savings can be achieved by ensuring that appropriate support and action is taken with these employees.
- A total of 46% of the days lost to absence are due to just two causes: Stress and Musculoskeletal Back Injuries. This means that forming just 2 new cause based intervention strategies will help organisations to tackle almost 50% of absence.
- Only 38% of Return to work interviews are completed for Stress related absences, meaning that in more than 60% of occasions managers make no effort to understand the cause of, and contributions to, employee stress. A focused manager training and education programme on managing stress could help to tackle the second biggest reason for absence.
- Organisations with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service in place have 31% more stress related absence than organisations without an EAP service. When looking beyond the black and white statistics it can be seen that this is not because EAP services do not have value, but because many organisations are making the mistake of allowing managers to think that the introduction of an EAP service is the new process through which stress is managed, meaning that their engagement levels drop and resolutions to the root causes of stress remain unclear and out of reach.
- The time taken for managers to make a referral to Occupational Health or Physiotherapy for an employee with a Musculoskeletal Back Injury is 7.8 calendar days. This means that, for the number one reason for absence, managers allow a week to pass before deciding to intervene; missing opportunities for early intervention that may help return an employee to health, and to work, sooner.
With due consideration and the application of well organised framework, actions to tackle the above trends will help to tackle absence and should form part of the bedrock of any absence management system.
“Absence Management” Trends
At present, the most interesting trends in absence management, being the processes through which organisations are attempting to manage absence, not the absences themselves, are:
- The belief that Big Data solves big problems.
- The belief that new is always better.
Over the forth coming months FirstCare will be publishing its experience, from working with more than 70 different organisations, of the impact of these trends in the successful management of absence.