Health & Well Being For Specialist Subcontractors In The Construction and Engineering Industries
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Effective Absence Management For Subcontractors
Our 7 top tips to help you to manage absence more effectively
1 Have an absence policy
If you want to manage employee absence effectively you must have a robust and effective absence policy in place. This policy must explain what employees are expected to do when they are absent from work for any reason.
A good policy should be simple to follow, include the procedures which employees need to follow when they are absent from work. This should include who they should report their absence to and when, details of sick pay arrangements, the length of absence an employee can self-certify, and the type or length of absence when a medical note will be required.
If you are going to use return-to-work interviews, these arrangements should also be included in the policy.
Needless to say it is important that everyone involved fully understands the policy, and everyone knows who is responsible for administering it and dealing with any queries or concerns resulting from its application.
2 Involve appropriate team members
In most Specialist Subcontractor’s organisations managing absence might be done on a somewhat ad hoc basis. However, it is essential to delegate this responsibility to someone on the team so that they can understand and recognise absence issues.
It is essential to make sure that they understand your absence policy and have the communication skills to promote proper absence management within your team. They will need to have the skills and tools required to deal with absence, analyse individuals' absence reports and recognise where there may be issues.
You will need to decide if the team member responsible requires formal training and whether or not they are the right person to carry out return-to-work interviews. Such interviews will need to be recorded in detail and correct communications used in attempt to unearth the root cause of absence and then try to resolve the problem.
3 Point of contact
It is essential that everyone knows who their point of contact is to report absence, and it is useful to have a secondary point of contact if reporting to the main contact is not possible for whatever reason. Clear points of contact help to ensure that the correct procedure is followed and that absence is recorded correctly and appropriately.
Availability of the contact is also crucial as absence should be recorded when it happens so that appropriate action is taken and alternative arrangements made as soon as possible.Whoever the contact is, this person needs to be able to communicate effectively with the absent individual and try to understand the problem to provide accurate reporting.
It is important for the contact to be supportive of the absentee so that the true reason for their absence is given and the appropriate help offered if necessary. This is a complex area, but such key issues as stress should not simply be ignored.
4 Absence should be recorded consistently
Absence should be recorded consistently and accurately and your policy adhered to, so that any issues which do arise can be readily identified.
Procedures for reporting absence should ensure that wherever possible the employee speaks with the contact rather than a third party or by some indirect method such as a text message or answer phone. Whilst initial notification might be appropriate by such methods this type of contact is somewhat impersonal and should ideally be followed up with a more personal contact.
Any deviation from the agreed procedures should be dealt with by the main point of contact who should be able to take the matter up with the employee to ensure they understand the correct way of notifying their absence in future.
5 Management Information
Good quality management information, is essential in order to minimise the impact of absence on your organisation.
This data is highly sensitive and therefore should be stored appropriately with access restricted to only those who have responsibility for dealing with such matters. Clear simple to read reports will allow you to easily review absence records and ensure your absence procedures are being properly managed.
6 Proper Reports
Reports detailing employee absence should be produced weekly or monthly as appropriate to enable you to proactively manage any absence from day one. They should enable you to recognise any complex cases which may require senior staff involvement and support.
Your system should enable you to identify long term, persistent short term and complex absence cases and allow you to take action early on. It should also enable you to decide if an employee should be invited to attend a formal absence review once a number of absences have been reached.
Such a review is an opportunity for you to formally discuss absence and to try to establish any particular problem issues. Whatever is discussed and/or decided, everything should be clearly understood by and agreed with the employee. These discussions should then be properly recorded.
7 Return-to-work interviews and a holistic approach to absence
Return-to-work interviews are useful and effective way of controlling short-term absence as they can help you to identify problems at an early stage and provide you with the opportunity to start a dialogue over the issues which could be causing the absence.
Such interviews should follow a standard format and must be carried out as soon as possible once the absent employee returns to work, as the longer the interview is left, the less effective it becomes.
Such interviews can also be used as part of a holistic approach to your absence management strategy.
By promoting good health and wellbeing programmes and other benefits, such as private medical insurance, you are not only showing that you care about and value your staff but you can also help them to get back to productive work much sooner than might otherwise be the case.
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