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How to improve absence management after COVID-19

Do you have the right plan in place to help you manage absence more effectively, to improve employee welfare and to control your risks? If the answer is no, here’s where to start.

Fear of losing their jobs, lack of cover for their shifts, and the need to pay the bills led to one in seven of the deskless workforce continuing to work while sick during COVID-19, our new report can reveal.

In "The State of the Deskless Workforce" we asked the biggest workforce worldwide, the deskless workers, about their health and work balance, and what they need from an employer to be productive, loyal and happy. 

We surveyed workers in the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Nordics and the report compares worker sentiment before the COVID-19 outbreak and during the pandemic. In relation to sick leave and absence management, it found that workers felt they had no other choice to work sick - putting themselves, their colleagues and any customers they interacted with at risk. 

  • In the U.S. 74% would go to work sick before COVID-19, and 20% continued to go into work sick during the pandemic. Similar results were shown in the UK and surveyed markets. 
  • Half said they did so because they were worried about paying the bills. 
  • 15% of the Americans also expressed they feared getting fired if they didn’t continue to work.

To improve these results and create a safer environment for your employees, one action you can take is to make your absence management more effective. This could be vitally important to protect your staff and your business if there is a second wave of COVID-19. 

The question is, do you have the right plan in place to help you manage absence more effectively, to improve employee welfare and to control your risks? If the answer is no, here’s where to start:

1. Create a culture that supports flexible working

Our new report highlighted the importance of flexible working. With a culture in place that supports flexibility (and the right technology to make it a reality) you will simplify switching shifts and give employees the power to choose the shifts they work. Not only are they then given a sense of ownership and control, but a choice to work flexible hours that match their lifestyle and wellness. 

For you as an employer however, encouraging a life outside of work and putting in measures to promote this deliver healthy returns and produce employees who feel like they’ve been invested in. 

What do these efforts equal at the end? The answer is simple; improved productivity, saved time, reduced costs, improved employee retention and boosted employee happiness.

2. Care for your workforce

A big percentage of the deskless workforce are essential workers. They are healthcare workers, they keep our factories running, they’re in grocery stores and they’re our logistics network. COVID-19 showed us how vital these people are and the essential roles they play in maintaining our day to day loves.

And for these employees, meaning is beginning to matter more than money. Our survey shows that 1 in 4 global workers prefer a flexible schedule above a raise.

Employees who feel like they have a meaning and significance in their workplace and are able to see how their contribution makes a difference, often value purpose over salary, are much more likely to stay with their organizations and have far fewer sick days.

3. Integrate absence management with your WFM solution

When absence management is controlled through your workforce management tool, it gives you the ability to: 

  • Facilitate real-time communication between managers and employees on absence requests. 
  • Automatically (and manually) check absence balances to ensure the employee is not taking excess time off. 
  • Forecast future balances for all regulations and planned leave usage and calculate the accrual of earned time off.
  • Reduce the risk of noncompliance with automatic checks against working time directives and employee contracts.
  • Ensure absences are paid out at the right rates.

Thanks to the amount of data you’ll have at your fingertips you’ll be able to make better decisions surrounding your absence management. Through seeing the patterns and trends in your historical data, you’ll be able to better plan for absences.

And with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning within your solution your managers will get notified on how likely it is that someone will be absent on any given day and who can replace the open shifts.


Download our reports on the state of the deskless workforce in 2020 for more insight and analysis.

Access Reports




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