Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Dramatic fall of absence at Leeds Housing Concern 29/06/2012
The introduction of Cascade HR software has resulted in an 18% fall in absenteeism at Leeds Housing Concern. Operational support manager Frank Vaughan explains.
Click to jump to section
Before the new system was implemented, we had no way of knowing what our absence levels were. Managers were dealing with absences in different ways – there was a real need to develop policies and procedures that were fair and consistent.
The software was well received by staff, and line managers appreciated the empowerment that came with using it to identify absence trends and address them appropriately.
We gave employees one year’s notice that we were to introduce the Bradford Factor scoring system. Again, this was not met with resistance. Our wish to fairly monitor workplace absence boosted morale among those with high attendance levels.
Before showing them the absence rates of their team members, I met with each line manager to ask which individuals they thought had been off work the most. In the majority of instances, the wrong employee was identified, which proved how important the system was in identifying true workplace behavioural patterns.
Now we have trigger mechanisms in place, which proactively alert line managers to possible absence trends, according to employees’ Bradford Factor scores. With support from the system, they can then take appropriate steps such as performing RTWs. The software also produces a monthly absence summary for the chief executive, showing the ongoing level and cost of absence to the organisation.
Reduction by fifth in absence
In the 12-month period since the program was introduced, absence levels fell by almost a fifth. The reasons are as follows:
- Managers can recognise if there is an attendance problem within their team. They can quantify the scale of the issue and assess the status of their team’s workplace presence against cross-comparable organisations
- This empowerment means our managers have a greater understanding of their team’s performance
- We are able to tackle absences before they become a significant problem
- Because the system acts like a neutral third party, employees appreciate the fairness with which absences are addressed. The clear presentation of individuals’ Bradford Factor scores encourages employees to think about their own attendance levels
- Working relationships have improved. Any perception of ‘malingering’ behaviour has dropped, resulting in increased morale.
A richer understanding of workplace absence allows you, as a responsible employer, to investigate its possible causes. Armed with greater knowledge, you can help and support employees appropriately.
The absence figures at LHC are well below what is expected at an organisation of our type and industry.
Frank Vaughan, operational support manager, Leeds Housing Concern
Frank's career highlights include managing a national contract for the Youth Justice Board & the first privatised patient transport contract for the NHS, being general manager of 27 homes for children with special needs & now working with a Leeds-based housing support charity.