Every year the CIPD run an annual survey report on Absence Management. The report this year was the 16th national survey to be carried out covering 1.5 million employees from 578 organisations. It found that the average employee absence level has increased slightly compared with last year, from 6.6 to 6.9 days per employee, but that there were greater variations across sectors. In education, the absence level rose last year from 6.1 to 8.8 days, a significant increase. Using the SAM Calculator to work out absence costs, that is an increase of £49,737 a year, based on 100 staff with an average salary of £35,000*. So the question is, do you know the full cost of absence in your school or organisation?

Costs can include supply costs, occupational health referrals, medical reports and sick pay but they actually stretch much further than this. The disruption for pupils caused by staff being absent in a school environment can be significant. Learning can be disrupted due to a change in routine, misbehaviour in class, change in morale and lack of coordination. The same would apply to members of staff. If a colleague is absent for a significant number of days’, morale can be affected and resentment can be created. The overall effect on your organisation is much more than just the monetary cost.

The aspect of funding for learning and development or new equipment could be addressed if outgoing costs were reduced. Diverting funds to facilities could also have an effect on performance and standards of achievement. In Schools this may contribute towards Ofsted performance with absence being a key indicator and focus in the new guidelines. Yet according to the survey less than two fifths actually monitor how much absence costs them.

Most organisations had policies in place but were they up-to-date? When was the last time you checked, updated and importantly communicated your absence policy? A lot of organisations collected the data and some addressed hotspots but can you actually say that you understand the trends of absence in your school or organisation? Are you fully aware of how absence compares across line managers, departments, locations and years? Are you able to track where each person is up to in the absence process, enabling you to take proactive steps to reduce absence and improve staff wellbeing?

In the survey nearly 75% said they believed they could reduce staff absence but only 40% had set a target to achieve this and in 2014 only 25% had actually achieved that target. Setting realistic triggers to monitor absence, putting in place a current absence management policy and using software such as SAM to help track absence and take proactive action, can all help reduce the cost and disruption.

SAM can automate trigger management, showing you clearly and easily who is hitting a trigger and then helping you track the monitoring rounds, meetings and occupational health referrals so you keep on top of absence. It can also compare results across terms, years, departments, managers and locations so you can see where trends are occurring and take action. If you would like a free demonstration of how SAM could help please email us at enquiries@staffabsencemanagement.co.uk.

It may be worth checking your absence policy, making sure it is fully communicated to staff and that they are aware of the triggers you have put in place. If you would like to update your absence policy or need help getting on top of absence management please get in touch. We have qualified HR specialists who can help reduce the workload with Attendance Surgeries and assist you with occupational health referrals, call 01924 827869.

If you are not sure about how to set targets or how to manage and improve the absence process, then our Effective Attendance Training could also help make sure you are on the right track this year and help you overall to reduce absence and save costs.

*Costs for 100 staff based on 6.1 days absent £112,368. Costs for 100 staff based on 8.8 days absent £162,105, http://www.staffabsencemanagement.co.uk/index.php?id=23. CIPD Survey https://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/absence-management_2015.pdf

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