Line manager training reduces absence rates

Employers that targeted line managers for absence management training saw improved absence rates at two-thirds (64%) of organisations, according to new research from XpertHR.

The research reveals that training line managers gave them more confidence to tackle non-attendance proactively.

Among those employers that saw improved absence rates as a result of manager training, 20% witnessed a significant reduction and 68% saw “some reduction” in their absence levels.

Only one organisation in 10 of the 178 that conducted absence management training thought that it was unsuccessful.

Charlotte Wolff, XpertHR training editor and author of the report, said: “This research echoes findings of a similar study carried out by XpertHR in 2007. It appears that giving line managers the skills they need to deal with the sometimes complex issues surrounding sickness and absence frequently pays off.

“Line managers are not always equipped to have sensitive conversations with team members and can be nervous of falling foul of employment law. Training that involves discussion, real-life examples and an opportunity to learn in a safe environment will provide them with the confidence they need.”

Wolff added that it is beneficial for line managers to develop an understanding of the organisation’s absence policies and procedures, learn how to seek help and guidance from HR and occupational health, and understand why absence matters to the organisation.

The report found that the topics most covered by employers in absence management training included: organisational policy (99%); return-to-work interviews (99%); recording absence (97%); and communicating with employees (92%).

Fewer employers included the promotion of good health (51%) and Health and Safety Executive management standards (25%) (a tool that helps managers be proactive about minimising workplace stress), areas that were more widely covered by the organisations that saw significant reductions in their absence rates as a result of line manager training.

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