Absence Management a Top Concern for UK Employers
If you were to select a new workforce management solution this year, what would your primary focus be? More efficient time tracking? Improved workforce scheduling? Absence management? Or how about labor analytics software that informs strategic planning and day-to-day decision making?
We recently conducted a survey of UK employers, in conjunction with People Management, to learn more about their top concerns—and how they overlap with the results of the 2014-2015 Workforce Management Trend Survey.
Here’s what the survey, Workforce Management Trends & Challenges among UK Employers, revealed:
- Absence is a major concern. Nearly half of the 350 HR professionals who participated in the survey indicated that absence management would be their primary focus in selecting new workforce management software. This topped the list by a wide margin.
- Communication gaps exist. When we dug deeper to learn more about their most pressing absence management concerns, lack of clear, timely communication rose to the top. In fact, a majority of respondents stated that getting last-minute notice about absence requests is their biggest absence management challenge. Other widespread concerns included employees taking more leave time than allotted or misusing sick days as personal time.
- Absence is expensive. The above-mentioned concerns are closely related to a common financial objective: reducing absence costs. According to PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), employee absences cost UK employers £31.1bn per year, which includes an estimated £28.8bn due to sick time1. The financial impact of both short- and long-term absences can be significant as managers scramble to fill vacancies and maintain productivity, especially when the issue is compounded by a lack of adequate notice. In industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and energy/utilities, managers often have strict staffing needs, and limited options. Choices include having employees work overtime, which inflates labor budgets, or calling in contingent workers—which can also be costly, especially at the last minute.
- Manual work persists. It’s also worth noting that more than three-quarters of the survey respondents indicated that they use a manual, in-house approach to manage employee absence. At the same time, only 1% rated their current approach as “excellent,” which suggests a significant need for more efficient leave management tools and processes.
Employers seeking solutions should look for options capable of addressing all dimensions of absence management. It’s not enough to tackle one issue—such as reducing the burden of leave-related paperwork. Truly managing absence and curbing absence-related costs requires a comprehensive approach. A solution that weaves all components of workforce management together will help you:
- Empower managers to quickly fill vacancies according to multiple canvassing requirements
- Allow employees to swap shifts, which can dramatically reduce absence abuse
- Track accruals in real-time so requests can be approved based on accurate forecasts
- Help HR determine leave eligibility based on the most current leave laws
- Manage intermittent leaves without resorting to manual workarounds
- Streamline leave-related communications and provide a documented audit trail
Our comprehensive workforce management solutions can help you achieve every one of these goals, so you can be confident that you’re tackling this complex issue from all angles, not just one or two.
1PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). “Rising sick bill is costing UK businesses £29bn a year – PwC research.” 15 July 2013. (http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2013/07/rising-sick-bill-is-costing-uk-business-29bn-a-year-pwc-research.html)