Absence management: Line managers play key role in reducing absence

Training line managers in absence management reaps rewards for employers, according to research by Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review.

The survey of 90 employers, with a combined workforce of more than 300,000 people, shows that many believe line managers are integral to the successful management of absence. And they seek to gain their buy-in, build their confidence, and equip them with the skills to do it.

Three-quarters of employers (74%) believe absence rates have fallen as a result of the training. And they also believe that line managers gained greater confidence in tackling absence-related issues took the initiative rather than reacting to problems and were more conscientious about recording absences.

Most employers (71%) arrange absence management training for all line managers with people management responsibilities. The remaining three in 10 (29%) do so selectively.

The majority (81%) prefer to provide their absence management training as self-contained courses, rather than as part of a broader training and development programme. But those that have made it compulsory are more likely to see results. Nine in 10 (89%) employers with compulsory training said it had helped to reduce absence rates, compared with 56% of those where training is optional.

Almost all employers (98%) include the use of return-to-work interviews in their absence management courses. Those surveyed found them to be one of the most effective measures in terms of improving absence management. However, they also recognised line managers’ reluctance to take on this task.

Nearly all absence management courses (97%) ensure that the organisation’s absence policy is clearly explained. And nearly nine in 10 (85%) train line managers in recording and monitoring absences. This includes gathering and analysing data, understanding the data, identifying trends and patterns, and understanding absence rates.

Employers use an average of three different means of delivering training to line managers, according to the findings. It is most likely to be delivered in a group setting (97%), and activities include discussions (60%) and role plays (47%).

For more information, go to XpertHR.

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