Whether it’s a common cold
or a family issue, there are a multitude of reasons why employees may need time
off work.

Recurrent absences or
lateness can, however, point towards bigger problems that companies must
address. According to the CIPD, one third of organisations have recorded an increase
in stress-related absence in the last year. There is also a growing awareness
of mental health related problems in the workplace, in fact, the NHS reports
that one in every three sick notes handed out to patients in the last year were for
mental health problems.

Close observation of
absence trends can help flag if an employee is feeling any strain and allows
for positive intervention before their issue intensifies. This is not only good
for the individual, but it benefits the whole workforce too. It can help
ascertain whether an employee is experiencing personal difficulties, and, it could
also highlight an issue with workloads or management style, which can be
addressed by management.

The ability to
identify potential problems early is a real benefit for any organisation hoping
to create a happy, healthy workforce. With these insights helping organisations
to take steps to improve wellbeing in the workplace, it can result in major
improvements in productivity and reduce the costs to any company.

The cost of absence

Unplanned absences have
an financial cost for businesses which has been reported to be £29 billion in the UK annually. Research by the CIPD has also
found that the average cost of absences to be £522 per employee in the private sector, rising
to £835 in the public sector.

However, these costs
of absences do not necessary reflect the true impact on business performance.
Absence can have a ripple effect within the organisation too, as balanced workloads
are suddenly disrupted. It can leave colleagues having to pick up the slack,
which could potentially cause their own productivity levels to nosedive.

These financial costs
can also be compounded by organisations needing to hire agency workers or pay for
overtime, in order to maintain current levels of service  or to meet orders. Any steps that can be taken
to reduce these costs would be beneficial from a profitability stand point.

The impact on productivity

Unplanned absences can
be hard to predict, however, by using integrated time and attendance data, it is
possible to see patterns emerge. For instance, the CIPD’s research has shown
that the average number of absence days tend to be higher where manual labour
is involved, and there is evidence that this is also true in larger

Using historic data,
we can start to develop an understanding of the reasons and forecast potential
absences in the future. When added to data used for planned periods of absence,
it becomes possible for management to predict staff shortages, well in advance,
allowing for them to plan their workload schedules accordingly. This can also reduce
the strain on the remaining workforce during these periods and ensure companies
are not paying a premium to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

Employees will always require
time off, whether it is planned or not, however, by tracking the time and
attendance data closely, businesses can get ahead, enabling them to adjust and
flex their organisation accordingly.