Workforce management ideas

Serious absence management issues cost industry £14bn a year!

Essential to the ongoing financial success of a business is its profitability and cashflow. This profitability will depend on many factors including the skill and management expertise of the individuals within the business.

Their ability to act will also depend on them being provided timely and accurate management information allowing them to make the correct decisions at the correct time in the best interests of the business. One of the most important considerations for any manager or business owner is the workforce and staff costs and from that comes the challenge of monitoring, controlling and trying to reduce employee absence.

The impact of absence

Employee absence can have a huge impact on many aspects of the costs, running and performance of a business as this “Fit for Purpose” report details which “found overall absences still cost the economy £14 billion a year, according to the ONS.” It went on to say that “almost £1.8 billion was lost from an estimated one-in-eight sick days taken for non-genuine reasons, with one in five employers believing employees take “sickies” as an occasional perk.”

Absences, whether planned or unexpected can be far more disruptive and costly to SME’s. Unexpected absences can affect the morale of the remaining staff and can interfere or disrupt the workflow of the business and other staff. In manufacturing companies absence can decrease the quality of output and within sales and customer service teams it can affect the quality of customer service. Even scheduled absence if not planned for, communicated well and managed can have a similar effect.

Before you can control absence and mitigate its effect on your business you have to measure it

The first step to the mitigating or controlling of absence is the effective monitoring and measuring of it. For an absence management or absence tracking system to be effective it should be simple, easy to understand, transparent and visible for all parties.

This can be done by using something as simple as a planner or board. A simple board up in the office may be sufficient but as your company grows its possible the payroll software can handle absence recording for you or you could use a complicated spreadsheet that has to be emailed around. Do you really want to spend hours on complicated spreadsheets that you have to get emailed around where the data isn’t visible to everyone all of the time?

The modern absence recording

There are new cloud based workforce management programs that as part of their features, can record, monitor and measure absence. They can also plan shifts and conveniently track certificates and assets which. It’s pretty handy having all this information in one place and it being transparent and conveniently accessible almost anytime, wherever you are.

Absence measurement scale

Many companies or their human resource department’s use the Bradford Factor or Bradford Formula as an established and independent measure of employee absenteeism and its disruptive effect on a business. The basis of the theory is that frequent, short absences are much more disruptive to an organisation than single longer absences.

You calculate the Bradford Factor by taking the square of the total number of spells (instances) of absence of an individual over a set period (S) and multiplying that by the total number of days of absence of that individual over the same set period (D)(Set period being a rolling 52 week period) This gives you the Bradford Factor (B) as follows:

The product of this equation can then used to assess an employee’s ongoing absence record not only against his peers but also his colleagues. It may also be used as part of an absence target system or disciplinary action scale.

Good absence management is part of good management

Part of the good management of a company is the tracking of all types of absence whether that is holiday, sickness or some other type such as maternity, paternity, compassionate, training or unauthorised absence. Employees value a quick response to a holiday request so they can plan their lives and know where they stand.

A good manager keeps track of all of these as part of the management of his staff, employees or workforce. Employees need and often thrive better under a set of clear and concise rules and conditions that are easy to understand, visible and fair to all. So if the manager makes the absence recording visible to the individual then there can be no misunderstanding or errors.

Why use an absence management system?

A good absence management system greatly reduces the man hours and therefore cost to an organisation of tracking and monitoring its absence. It also reduces mistakes, duplications, misunderstandings and payroll errors.

Primary Benefit for the business

  • Saves management time which can be better spent on:
  • Managing staff face to face
  • Account management of clients
  • Winning new business and clients

Other benefits

  • Is visible and transparent and can be checked or audited at any time
  • Aids an organisations managers in managing their staff

Extra Benefits of a system that allows staff interaction

  • The self service staff portal allows interaction with staff
  • A system that allows staff interaction gives the impression of a forward thinking innovative company to both staff and clients
  • Visibility and transparency helps and improves staff engagement

Want to know more about the benefits of effective and automated absence management? Check out this infograph by ADP.


Whatever the reason for excessive absenteeism in an organisation, what is indisputable is that it is disruptive and unfair on the colleagues and peers. The first step to controlling, mitigating or reducing excessive absenteeism is the accurate recording and tracking of all absences in an organisation.

If you choose a system that facilitates staff interaction, allows them to request holiday but also highlights their ongoing absence record it can act as a deterrent to “sickies”. Transparency and visibility can be powerful motivators to errant workforce behaviour.

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