According to the CIPD Absence Survey, absence costs on average £835 per year per employee in the public sector, so monitoring it regularly in your organisation is essential to reduce costs, maximise productivity of your employees and improve student experience, resulting in higher achievements. But, where do you start?

Well, the key things to monitor are;

The type of absence that is occurring with that particular employee – Is there a pattern emerging? Do the timings of absence raise any cause for concern? Is there anything you can do to help reduce this type of absence?

The type of absence that is occurring across a department – Is there a pattern that raises concerns for a particular team or line manager? Do you need to alter working patterns or reduce workload to minimise stress for example? Are there any adjustments needed to the management style?

The type of absence that is occurring across your organisation as a whole – Do you have a higher number of people absent with a specific type of illness? Could you, for example, hold flu clinics or does cleanliness need to be improved to reduce spreading germs. Do you have a high proportion of staff off with stress and if so what could you do to reduce this?

Long-term v short-term absence – It would be helpful to understand what kind of absence needs your attention. Is it an issue with short-term illnesses or is it a case of trying to better support and manage those off long-term?

Time periods – Do you have an issue with absence in a particular time-frame. This could be a specific day, time of year or perhaps related to your type of work, for example at the point of approaching the end of year.

Benchmarking – Can you compare your absence against benchmarks across your industry. Do you know if it is an issue in your organisation or more standard? CIPD has published an absence survey with average statistics by industry which you can access here.

Cost – Do you know how much absence is actually costing your organisation, by employee, by department and across the organisation? Before you take action, you should have a starting point to work from and then periodically review this to see what actions can be taken to reduce this amount. Do you know how much Occupational Sick Pay, Statutory Sick Pay or Supply Cover cost you? On top of this are indirect costs, such as administration time and lower productivity.

Frequency – How often is a member of staff absent? If you are going to follow a formal process you need to know how often they are absent and why quickly and easily. Likewise planning your budget to cover absentees is impossible if you don’t know how many days you are likely to need covering on average.

Triggers – If you have an absence policy in place with trigger conditions regarding absence you need to be able to monitor these clearly and quickly. Taking quick and correct action during and following an absence is important in supporting the colleague back to work and reducing your costs. Monitoring triggers over a length of time can show when action needs to be taken in line with your absence policy and support your absence process. Triggers can be set around cumulative days absent in a set period, number of occasions of absence in a set period or Bradford Factor calculation.

How can good reporting help?
Employee – Good reporting can help the employee to be supported correctly through the absence process

Line Manager/Department Manager – Tracking absence and analysing reports can help line managers to support staff and manage the absence process correctly. They can identify trends and have more meaningful discussions with employees.

Headteacher/Managing Director – Reporting can help a Headteacher or Managing Director to assess the impact of absence across the organisation and to report to senior leaders, trustees or Governors.

Multi-Academy Trusts/ Multi-Site organisations – Viewing reports across schools or sites can highlight any issues that need addressing within the group or with specific managers.

SAM, as online software, automates monitoring of triggers and produces a suite of reports for you to use. The reports include:

Annual Comparison – This compares absences over a set number of academic years
Absence Type – This shows you the types of absences further broken down by illness categories
Termly Comparison – Similar to the annual comparison but compared over a preset number of terms
Per Department – Teachers / Support / Leadership etc.
Per Line Manager – just a view per line manager
All Absences – the All Absences Report is used mainly to extract absences for payroll purposes over a specified period
Attendance Percentage Report – attendance by employee showing 100% as well as percentage absent.
…. And finally, the Cost of Absence Report. This report uses your staff salary and absence data. The report will work out how much absence is costing you by individual absence, by employee summary, by absence type summary and by department summary. This is very useful for senior leadership teams and governing bodies.
If you would like to receive an online demonstration of SAM please give one of the team a call on 01924 827869 or email

Source: CIPD Absence Survey 2016

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