Absence management training: employers deterred by cost

Workforce absence costs an estimated £595 per employee each year.

Line manager training in absence management can significantly reduce employee absence, yet almost a quarter (23%) of employers fail to provide it, according to research from XpertHR.

Workforce absence costs an estimated £595 per employee each year, but the cost of providing training and manager availability are deterring some companies from putting a relevant learning initiative in place, the research found.

Almost one in four (23%) of those that do not offer the training told XpertHR that the cost is prohibitive, while one in five (19%) believes that their line managers do not have the time to attend.

Providing evidence that HR recognises its importance, 78% of respondents that work for organisations without compulsory absence management training believe that it should be made obligatory.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s absence management survey report for 2013 highlighted the crucial role of the line manager in both managing absence and promoting attendance.

Echoing XpertHR’s latest findings, it pointed out that “still there remains a gap between the number of employers that give line managers primary responsibility for managing absence and those that provide them with training and support to do so most effectively”.

Areas that managers need to understand about the control of absence include the practical and administrative elements, communicating with employees – often the most challenging – and the legal ramifications.

Among the employers in the XpertHR research that do provide the training, virtually all (99%) teach managers about their organisation’s absence policy, while a high proportion (98%) also cover return-to-work interviews, the recording and monitoring of absence (96%), and the basics of communicating with employees (95%).

It is less common for employers to include information on management’s legal duties and relevant legislation (83%). Just 62% include the promotion of good health, and seven in ten (71%) note the cost of absence to the organisation.

The training is typically delivered face to face in a group setting, with a facilitator, often using in-house HR staff.

According to XpertHR, the course can be made more effective by increasing interactivity, using one-to-one coaching, focusing on the costs of absence to the organisation and providing refresher training.

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