Managing absence has always been a challenge – even more so in the past year. ONS figures show that since April 2020 there’s been a fall in the total number of sickness absences. But there have been numerous variables at play during this extraordinary period. Furloughed employees. Shielding employees who might usually be more prone to needing time off for health reasons. Employees working from home who might ordinarily have taken a sick day but instead felt they could struggle on as they didn’t need to leave the house. Supporting employee health and wellbeing remains as critical as ever and the pandemic has certainly added another layer of complexity.
It’s vital companies are able to respond effectively and appropriately by understanding the specifics of the factors affecting absence in their workforce. Cloud hosted HR software has a key role to play here and here are six ways in which it helps organisations manage their absence.
1. HR software facilitates comprehensive, accurate recording and reporting
At the heart of effective absence management is the ability to track and measure the time being taken off, and to analyse the trends and reasons that lie behind those figures.
Cloud-hosted HR software captures all the vital information needed to do that. Not only does it offer a standard suite of reports, but it can also be configured to produce more detailed breakdowns for a greater level of insight. HR software can be quickly updated to reflect changes too. That’s been important over the past year with new reasons for absence suddenly needing to be captured, such as self-isolation, quarantining or shielding. It can be readily adapted to reflect any updates made to absence management policies and procedures too.
Cloud based HR software also offers highly flexible remote access, enabling HR professionals to access information wherever they’re based so they can continue to monitor absence issues and act when necessary.
2. It enables sound decision-making about wellbeing strategies
Supporting employee wellbeing and mental health are not new priorities for HR. But the pandemic has made it more important than ever that employers find effective ways to do it. Companies can make assumptions to some extent about what’s needed. But if they are intending to invest time, money and effort to achieve maximum impact, approaches should be based on clear data that indicates where efforts should be focused.
From identifying the high-level patterns to drilling down into the detail, HR software enables companies to understand the nature of the wellbeing issues their employees are facing. That enables them to put together informed meaningful strategies and targeted initiatives in response.
3. HR software generates detailed individual histories
Understandably, HR and line managers want to reduce the frequency and associated costs of sickness absence. But equally, there’s recognition that people become ill and should always be responded to in a sensitive and supportive way. The pandemic’s underlined the importance of having well-informed perspectives on individual cases; many people who’ve had Covid continue to struggle months on with a range of associated health complications.
In all instances, it’s vital that organisations are able to quickly access and understand individual sickness absence histories to help them handle situations appropriately. HR software captures a whole range of information, providing reliable, detailed and up to date records, helping management make the right choices about the support needed and most appropriate tone to take.
4. HR software can highlight departmental absence patterns
The flexibility and versatility of HR software means that reports can be created to provide insights in many different ways, including at departmental level. That can enable HR to spot specific issues that might be manifesting themselves within a particular function.
For example, if several people were regularly absent with stress-related issues, HR might feel this needs investigating to pinpoint whether such instances are connected to specific problems within the department. Or a spate of people absent with musculo-skeletal problems might suggest an issue with how a work area is set out perhaps or the way procedures are being implemented within a given area, potentially indicating a training need or requirement to adjust work practices or equipment.
5. HR software offers a highly secure way to store sensitive records
The nature of absence records means it’s critical the information is held securely. But all too often it can be stored in a variety of places such as employee files, spreadsheets and emails. Not only does that make it difficult to quickly get hold of information, this haphazard way of managing absence carries with it a far greater risk of data security breaches.
Holding records across several different locations is a far from ideal way to manage any kind of HR information, let alone information of such a sensitive and confidential nature. HR software addresses this problem, storing information in one central and highly secure location, ensuring that no-one other than those authorised to do so can access it.
6. It reduces the administrative burden on HR
Managing absence effectively requires access to information that’s accurate, up to date, and that can be interrogated and analysed in several different ways to get the necessary insights to make sound decisions. If that information is contained within different systems and spreadsheets, pulling it together is a time-consuming task. The information’s likely to be more difficult to compare, its accuracy could be reduced and errors can creep in.
It’s a task that will usually fall onto the HR department to complete. HR software removes that burden, enabling HR practitioners to quickly create management reports that are detailed, accurate and based on real-time data. That means HR professionals can get on with using their time and expertise to make decisions about the best ways to manage the issues instead.
Good quality information and actionable analysis are vital for ensuring an effective approach to managing absence. If you are looking at whether a move to cloud-based HR software could benefit your organisation, why not speak to us to discover how our Legislator HR software can assist you in managing your HR challenges?