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Absent staff – less of a headache?

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CBI figures released this week show that workplace absence has increased for the first time in five years, yet a recent IRS survey suggests that absence management appears to be less of a priority for HR in the year ahead. See list of HR priorities for the next 12 months.

Perhaps HR’s optimism reflects the fact that you’ve been adopting measures that will make a difference in the coming months?

The survey of 519 HR departments found that the same techniques for managing absence are rated as most effective across employers of all kinds and sizes. These combine positive assistance and more hands-on management control of attendance.

The four most popular methods were found to include:
– return-to-work interviews (82%)
– improved record-keeping (67%)
– taking targeted action (62%), and
– offering rehabilitation (57.2%)

While more employers overall believe that absence levels have worsened rather than improved, more employers than not believe that absences due to back problems have improved and employers are more optimistic (by a margin of 6.6%) that levels of bullying have diminished.

HR managers are optimistic that absence rates – across all areas – will improve in the coming year, with a third more employers believing long-term absences of four weeks or more will be reduced in the next 12 months.

“With this optimism, comes a word of caution. While employers generally expect their experience of absence to get better, they are less optimistic about stress-related absences, warned IRS Employment Review Absence and Attendance editor, Neil Rankin.

“And in relation to workplace bullying, while there is an optimism that this problem will reduce in the coming year, far more employers – a quarter of all those we contacted – were unable to provide an answer about bullying’s incidence. We have to wonder whether bullying is adequately monitored by organisations’ systems,” he added.

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