Why you need more than a call-in Automated Voice Response (AVR)

Posted by James Arquette on 06/10/16 15:41

While Automated Voice Response (AVR) systems may be a tried and trusted tool, commonplace in many organisations, there’s no denying the fact that they have significant limitations.

Many systems rely on line managers to review, record and action each absence, taking up valuable time, time many line managers simply don’t have. What with completing appropriate forms to refer on for additional support, managing the onward referral and return to work process; managing each and every absence can quickly become a major burden.

Then there’s the lack of flexibility involved with using an AVR system. They may be great for taking employees’ messages, but there’s no functionality to handle non-standard absence cases that can be most costly to an organisation and an AVR can’t be programmed to deal with employees’ calls with compassion or provide individual evidence-based advice to ensure the best care from the first day.

It’s reasons like these that are precisely why HR professionals need more than a call-in AVR system, if they want to deal with their absence reporting more efficiently, provide sick staff with more of a personalised service and ensure their overall processes are as effective as they can be from day 1.

Not sure how to go about improving your call-in AVR system? Here are some pointers to get you started.

First and foremost, and as obvious as it may sound, coaching and training employees on how to use the AVR system will ensure everybody understands how to get the best use out of it. Supporting line managers to correctly interpret the results and how to act on them, for instance, how to categorise each absence, will also ensure the information that’s collated on the system is dealt with correctly.

Setting adequate time aside to review your feedback against previous quarters and years and benchmarking your data might be time consuming, but it’s incredibly worthwhile. It’ll enable you to identify any absence trends, address the hidden causes of absence and make relevant amendments to effect change.

If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to implement these improvements, there is an alternative option you can take. Obtaining support through a fully hosted, employee-centric Day 1 service will enable you to:

  • Reduce latency for other rehabilitation elements of your service
  • Provide extensive data analysis and benchmarking information
  • Achieve a tangible return on your investment – as you’ll have better data at hand to make more informed decisions

The Day 1 solution has delivered impressive results for one of our clients, South Northamptonshire Council. We provided the local authority with a Day 1 Absence Management service where absences are recorded and reported as soon as an employee is absent from work.

Since the introduction of the service, the council has seen a significant reduction in employee absence, from an average of 7.5 days per incident to four days. Remarkable savings have also been generated across the council, such as within the Waste Services team, where it costs an average of £9.20 per hour to employ a temporary refuse and recycling collector or street cleaner to cover an absent employee.

As tempting as it might be to just simply rely on an AVR system, they’re only a part solution and only deliver a fraction of the service on the most important day, day 1. In order to be as effective as possible, absence reporting and management, undoubtedly needs that personal touch, as well as the insight and expertise to interpret your data correctly and make the best possible recommendations to reduce your absence levels.

Want to find out more or discuss your absence management requirements with us? Contact us on or 0345 456 5730. In the meantime, check out our infographic about Fit notes, ‘Are Fit notes fit for purpose?’

Topics: Blogs, Health