Managing Absence

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Explanatory notes. Absence causes lost work, extra overtime, increased rejects, customer annoyance and missed deadlines. In addition staff with low absenteeism are demoralised by those who take excessive time off. Well, you can make a real impact using a zero tolerance policy backed by good procedures, including accurate record keeping. Central to the process is an effective ‘Back to Work Interview’. Applied to everyone returning to work after absence, this is a sensitive, non-threatening and reflective meeting with the manager. It always assumes absence is genuine, seeking instead to identify the causes and agree solutions to ensure that it is not repeated. The aim is to find underlying causes of absenteeism that are not always revealed by traditional methods. These include low morale, stress, bullying, poor leadership, personal problems, alcohol abuse and, especially relevant these days, personal value systems. Thus all absentees expect to face a probing yet reasonable, face-to face interview immediately upon their first morning back. They will be expected to justify their absence, identify causes and formulate an action plan to avoid a recurrence. The impact is significant with examples of company-wide reductions in absenteeism in excess of 50% being reported. This presentation should help you to encourage your managers to deliver such a process. The workshop includes only one role play, but a second has been provided so that extra ‘practice’ can be allowed for. The role play scenarios are designed to be cut in half so that each person only sees one part in preparation.


Absence Management


IntroductionHousekeeping Introductions Timings Objectives Questions


ObjectivesReview reasons for absenteeism Look at existing policy / procedures Absence Management Interviews


Why manage absence?Cost (£11 billion per annum in UK) Customer Service Fairness – to all Best practice


Case studyMajor UK employer 2000+ people Mixed workforce Many part-timers Absence halved (8%+ reduced to 4%)


Reasons for absence ‘I thought it was Sunday’ ‘I had to sort my socks’ ‘The wind was blowing against me’ ‘The cat was having kittens’ Exercise – 2 lists Causes of absenteeism Work and non-work related


Possible causes - work Low morale / job dissatisfaction / boredom Stress Poor working environment Ratio of staff to workload Lack of team cohesion Poor leadership Lack of training


Possible causes – non workSickness Inadequate nutrition Poor physical fitness Personal value systems / self-motivation Monday / Friday syndrome Personal problems Substance / alcohol abuse


Best practice policy Clear approach Trained managers / supervisors Trained staff at Induction Sympathetic Absence Management Interviews (AMI’s) Shared responsibility – Personnel & line managers


Sound processGood systems of recording Absence always taken as genuine Zero Tolerance for abusers True costs of absenteeism known


Sound processReturn to work interview in every case Sensitive, face to face AMI Appraisals? Eternal vigilance!


What happens here now?Who should people ring? Who records, keeps statistics? When does disciplinary start? Is there a policy Is it fully applied? Consistently?


Policy and responsibilitiesWhat is / should be included To reduce impact of sickness Organisational responsibilities - time off for sickness - pay when sick - consistent, fair, reasonable, sensitive - supporting managers


Managers’ responsibilities Recording Monitoring Managing Implementing guidance effectively Ensure your team are properly trained in absence procedure Induction is the place for this – reinforce at team meetings


Staff responsibilities Regular attendance Reporting sick as per procedure Ensuring a speedy return to work Not attending when certified sick Informing manager of any health issue impacting upon performance


Why use the AMI process?‘Counselling’ approach most effective Sensitive, non-threatening Preventative No negative impact Works only if manager is involved


WRRAF W – welcoming R – reflective listening / body language R - reframing A – action planning F – follow-up


WelcomingEstablish trust Express positive regard Show compassion / empathy Non-threatening, non-critical All absence is genuine


Reflective listeningListen well Reflect on each statement made Think what you have heard Power of silence Probe / clarify / reflect back No solutions at this stage Mirror body language


ReframingSeparate symptoms / causes / solutions Put into another context Their proposals NOT yours Their ownership AND yours Only subtle suggestions from interviewer Proposals should be specific actions


Action planningAgree action(s) Specific Measurable Realistic


Follow-upSummarise Actions to be taken Clarity re consequences Put agreed actions in writing Ensures taken seriously Agree a date to meet again


AMI agendaKnow their history Welcome them State purpose Ask if fit to return Interview using WRRAF model


AMI agenda Explain how they were missed Explain how their work was covered Discuss reasons for absence Identify problems & assistance required Explain how they stand on procedures Complete relevant questionnaire If sensitive issues arise refer to Personnel


Practice sessionWorking in pairs Interviewer (manager) and Interviewee Read scenario 1 20 minutes interview / 10 minute debrief Feedback

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Last Updated: 8th March 2018

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