Reward and rehabilitation will improve attendance

The key to avoiding unnecessary absenteeism is a well-designed reward package and management programme, according to consultancy Watson Wyatt.

David Cross, a partner at Watson Wyatt, said: “Clearly employees who are incentivised through a challenging work environment, culture and reward package show improved attendance and are enthused and engaged to do their best for the company. But there is little evidence that cash bonuses for attendance are successful in isolation.”

According to Watson Wyatt, companies also need to think creatively about remunerating those who are absent, for example by providing a pay scheme which drifts down gradually during absence – rather than going from full pay to far lower levels in large drops.

If this is aligned with a rehabilitation programme, it would ensure employees return to work as soon as they can, the company said. Responsibility for absenteeism usually lies with line managers who too often avoid challenging employees about sensitive or medical issues.

This failure to address the problem could result in enhanced absenteeism when psychological disorders, stress or discrimination issues are not tackled early enough, Cross said.

“Irrespective of size, companies can justify outsourcing certain functions of absence management to trained experts,” he said. “Outsourcing interrogation services by setting up designated help-lines shifts the focus from line managers to medical experts.

“Not only does this deter malingerers, it also establishes whether employees are genuinely ill and identifies opportunities to rehabilitate.”

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