The Causes of Avoidable Absenteeism
An avoidable absence is one that should not have happened in the first place or lasts longer than necessary.
Avoidable absenteeism can be reduced by ensuring your absence infrastructure is aligned with best practices in the following areas.
Customized Health and Wellness
Research suggests that those workplaces that demonstrate a caring attitude for the health and wellness of their workers are likely to have greater success in managing workers’ compensation, disability and absence costs. Such workplaces may offer a menu of cost effective, risk-reduction programs that are customized to meet the needs of workers. These workplaces also equip their employees with on-going support to maintain healthy lifestyles.
Return to work success for injured/ill employees is based, to a significant extent, on early intervention. The early intervention process starts with proper employee notification of an absence at day zero. An immediate response by the organization through the execution of its procedures will ensure proper management of the absence. The use of a third party to assess and evaluate the appropriateness of an absence is critical to properly managing absences within an organization.
An essential component of a successful absence management program is the widespread understanding and support of all stakeholders. Ongoing education, review of absence performance and open, honest communication about the program’s objectives, successes, failures and future plans are powerful tools that can alter entrenched attitudes and build trust between individuals.
Clearly Defined Accountability
The strength and effectiveness of a worksite absence management program often depends upon the extent to which responsibility, authority, and accountability are defined and assigned. Responsibility in an effective disability management system means clearly delineating the roles, functions and duties of all stakeholders and defining the ownership of performance of the absence program.
Policy and Procedures
Effective workplace absence management programs require consistency between the intentions of employers and the expectations of employees – well defined, and effectively communicated, policies and procedures. The establishment of principles and guidelines that can gradually shape the expectations of workers and others is a key pillar of an effective absence management program.
Privacy and Confidentiality
All employers must adhere to the privacy standards set forth by the federal and provincial governments under Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Employers should take a proactive role in protecting employee information and initiating a privacy protocol that protects the personal information of both their employees and any parties they deal with. By taking these measures, employers will in turn protect themselves against the perception by employees (and their unions) that medical information is being misused – undermining the effectiveness of an organization’s absence management program.
Casual, short and long-term disability plans protect employees from a loss of income while providing incentives to reduce absenteeism and encourage an early and safe return to work. These plans are most successful when integrated within a disability management program that streamlines structure, coordination, and administration to support early intervention and assertive claims management.
Tracking & Measurement
Determining the total cost of workplace injury and illness can be difficult, particularly when it comes to calculating the indirect costs, including lost productivity and additional administrative costs. The initial reporting and notification of absences at “Day 0” of an absence is critical to minimizing the length of any absence. Also, proper and real-time notification of managers of an employee sick absence facilitates a more stream-lined management process to effectively make internal changes and manage the absence. Trend and data analysis are also key to an effective, compliant absence management program.
STD and Workers Compensation Case Management
Conducting a full analysis of your short-term disability and worker’s compensation programs to identify the causes and cost drivers of the highest risk categories, including mental health, is one of the most effective ways to reduce avoidable absenteeism as part of the return to work phase of a comprehensive absence management program. In addition, this analysis should include a review of the worker’s compensation appeals process/structure to identify opportunities for greater efficiencies.
Read about the causes of avoidable absences
Read about the impact avoidable absences has on different types of organizations
Explore some of the free resources to help your organzation better understand absenteeism