Improve Your Employee Engagement With An Absence Management System

Provided your workers are human beings, missing from work is unavoidable. Almost every employee will become sick, experience an emergency, or need to take unplanned time off work at some point.

All HR professionals know the pain and headache of combining unexpected absences, lack of workforce, and unseen trends and patterns in the behavior of employees. This disease disrupts and costs the business in unforeseen ways.

The direct costs include:

  • Wages associated with time off more than PTO budgeted
  • Cost of replacement workers
  • Overtime for employees covering for absent workers
  • Administrative costs of managing the problem.

The indirect costs count:

  • Lost productivity
  • Reduced quality performance by under-trained replacement workers
  • Increased employee turnover
  • Lowered employee morale as remaining staff feel overworked
  • Increased safety risks.

Fortunately, there is a cure: an absence management system. The same way an absence affects more than just one department, a system that manages and records absence is pure gold for different business areas: payroll, HR, Internal Communication. And the results are mesmerizing: high levels of employee engagement that boost your workforce morale and productivity.

We are living in harsh times, with COVID changing the rules. Those who adapt to the new reality are going strong; having an efficient absence management system is mandatory.

In this guide, we will explore:

  • The definition of the absence management
  • The importance of having an absence management system in place
  • The three must-haves of an absence management software
  • Key benefits of using an absence management software.

1. The definition of the absence management

Absence management is the process of managing absences in your workplace. It is crucial to have a plan for dealing with employees absent from work, as it can be highly disruptive and costly when too many people are out at once. When you develop an absence management plan, you should consider how often people are taking off, what percentage of your staff will need coverage when someone is gone, and whether there are consequences for being absent.

Absence management reduces employee absenteeism (usually due to illness or injury) through protocols, policies, and procedures. For a significant impact, both managers and employees need to know these policies, with management and HR taking a proactive role in applying them. Some organizations prefer to use the term attendance management as it is considered more positive, and this may even extend to rewarding employees for good attendance.

2. The importance of having an absence management system in place

Time and attendance systems have historically been perceived as an obstacle to employee engagement, putting a barrier between staff and management who monitor workers and creating an atmosphere of mistrust amongst employees.

However, as these systems evolve, they bring new benefits that reinforce company engagement strategy.

They are about so much more than simply sending a time off request email.

# They are about communication

With the continuous evolution of technology and the wealth of available applications, staff can do much more than just fill papers or sheets. They receive newsletters and personal messages, reminding them of their worth and contribution to the company's results. You are communicating directly with them, improving the worker experience. And you don't need additional devices for this daily communication channel. You can reach it effortlessly, as everything you need is one click away, stored in the cloud.

# They are about freedom

Although an oxymoron, absence and attendance monitoring provides additional freedom to your workforce. With online tools practically making the interaction available from anywhere, at any time, without physically having to give a call or send an email. And LeaveBoard facilitates remote work scheduling so that the team will know at any time who is in the office or working from home.

Equally liberating, an attendance and leave system could provide a small or medium-sized company with the infrastructure they need to allow flexible working hours, which administrative restraints couldn’t otherwise qualify.

# They are about empowerment

Traditional attendance management systems relied on paperwork, countless spreadsheets, and manual timesheets. However, these tools can’t keep up with the ever-changing demands of the workplace today. Urged by this demand for efficiency and optimization, employee absence management software has become necessary to keep pace with the growing need to automatically fill the gaps. 

Most modern systems offer the employee self-service functionality, allowing staff to make their leave requests and view the attendance records and team’s calendar. By allowing your workers to view their work schedules, you empower them to manage their HR and payroll-related information and make them less reliant on the HR department for every piece of information.

# They are about fairness

The workforce must perceive fairness across all levels of your business. Integrity should be part of the company culture and is a factor in employee engagement.

With a time and attendance system in place, there can be no more disputes over any staff members arriving five minutes late or leaving five minutes early. The records will clearly show if someone is taking advantage of the system.

# They are about support

Management can direct employees to the correct support path before filling the gaps automatically work-related stress and burnout become critical and affect engagement levels. It fosters an environment where management supports rather than just monitors.

Companies can no longer afford to neglect employee engagement. As such, many organizations will justly be looking for technological solutions to support their engagement strategy. The latest time and attendance systems are in pole position to do that.

3. The three must-haves of an absence management software

Employee absence management systems offer flexibility, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness. The right capabilities in your absence management system will allow you to manage the most vital aspect of your organization: the employees. 

These are some of the essential features any absence management system should have:

Mobile support

Cloud-based HR systems are increasingly becoming the norm, enabling access to vital systems from virtually anywhere. Not only does this simplify the process of managing the operations for the HR department and managers, but the remote capability also boosts employee morale and productivity. A web-based solution isn’t just an additional feature to include. It’s imperative for smoothly functioning absence management.

Self-service option

Do your employees have to go through a tedious process to apply for leaves? Is it a hassle to find out their leave balance at the end of the month? Empowering employees is a necessity in any workplace. 

The self-service absence management system enables employees to apply for leaves, check when their colleagues are out of office, plan remote work, review their allowances, and approve vacation requests if they’re a manager. Coupled with the convenience of a single solution to address various concerns, empowering employees with self-service through easy-to-use employee portals leads to higher morale and productivity.

Integration with existing systems

The best employee absence management systems seamlessly integrate with the tools you are already using. An efficient absence management system will streamline communication with automated emails or allow booking time-off directly from Slack. 

A well-organized employee dashboard will allow managers and HR professionals to have a clear and direct line of communication with the workforce. By automatically receiving and routing incoming calls, the absence management system will help you optimize the process of filling shifts and managing absences. 

4. Key benefits of using an absence management software

When talking about absence management software, those using it say that it makes a significant difference to the business; they wonder how they ever got by without it.

A consistent absence management system will help you in ways you cannot imagine. But if you are still hesitating, don’t take my words for granted: look at the following key benefits of the absence management system:

# No data loss

There are accidents in every company. So the more secure the data records regarding the absence management, the better. And storing them in the cloud is the best and the most secure way available.

One can lose a pen-and-paper system during the office tiding, there can be a coffee spilled on it, or someone can mistakenly take it home and never return. Multiple spreadsheet files stored in computers get deleted, overwritten, or mistakenly taken as the most recent ones.

Note: We've made an update recently on our system: 4 back-ups every 24 hours.

# Accessibility

The data needs to be stored in a way that makes an accidental loss or unauthorized changes impossible, yet the user needs to access it as easily as possible. In the typical scenario, an employee requests leave, and the manager approves it. Sometimes there is an additional approver – for example, an HR manager, project manager, or a business owner in some cases.

All the interested parties must have access to the vacation calendar and the information regarding the leave of both all employees and a particular one.

# Real-time information

There is no way to make informed decisions when being non-informed. When the employee wishes to take a leave, the manager uses a spreadsheet (or a notebook, or anything that is not a modern leave management system – you name it) to check if that is possible in the desired time.

But the information can be obsolete, and the decision can end with a catastrophe – either by refusing to grant the vacation to the employee who needs them or by giving too many permissions and staying understaffed.

# Admin operation

When managing the leaves using an online system, the administrator does all the repetitive tasks quickly and conveniently. Adding or removing users can be automated and comes with little to no struggle. And if you are thinking about automating the HR processes regarding annual leave for all your employees, well we're happy to help with this.

More sophisticated leave management systems are integrated with modern office apps like Slack and share the information in real-time – one can ask for leave using Slack vacation tracker and get updated about their case status via that channel. Administrative access to the system is a powerful feature to take into consideration.

# Less paperwork

The power of integration and automation reduces dull and repetitive tasks. The immense amount of paperwork comes to an end with the HR absence management software. The paper versions of every step, either inquiry or granting the leave, can be printed at will, yet it is not necessary to do so as everything is in the cloud.

Also, reducing the paperwork is a more convenient way to deal with the leave management from the employee’s point of view – the process consists of several clicks, and there is no need to print, sign, or collect approvals around the company. Additionally, such tools help in your business transition towards going paperless.

# Better communication

Before one takes a leave, it is common to ask the team members about their plans and needs toward upcoming days. With the employee directory and database containing all the information about the planned leaves, one can check the availability of other team members in a specific timeframe. When all leaves are easy to monitor, the situation where one forgets about the upcoming leave of a colleague gets uncommon.

# Transparency with a dashboard

When all the leaves and absences are in a single and comprehensive dashboard, the business owner can check all the leave-related metrics in one place. The availability of the dashboard delivers a great way to spot productivity leaks and tackle problems like absenteeism or abusing company policies.

# Boosting compliance

Compliance is a challenge in multinational companies and teams distributed around the globe. Regardless of the headquarters’ placement, the company must comply with the local employment laws. It is not challenging when there is only one legal framework to stick to, but it gets increasingly challenging to keep an eye on multiple legal systems.

When there is a specialized provider, keeping all the compliance is on its side. 

# Promoting the company values

The last point is about delivering all the aspects that build the company culture – transparency and compliance provide trust among all company employees, regardless of their roles. On that, other values can grow.

Without transparency, the company can be no more than a bunch of people working together for money and nothing more.

Wrapping up

It is important to remember that you are dealing with real people. We all have unavoidable sick days. Many of us are parents who deal with family responsibilities. One of the key aspects of your plan should be to remember to be compassionate. Compassion will assure your employees that they work for a caring organization. Employees who feel their company cares for them will care for the company. 

Employees who care are productive, motivated, and engaged. Engaged employees avoid unnecessary absences, and that is ideal for business.

The absence management system is an excellent example of a feature that works in the back-end without clear visibility in core company activities. Yet, it is a crucial optimization with so many benefits a modern organization cannot ignore and work without it.

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