A new study has revealed that a third of workers did not take their full leave entitlement last year because their workloads were too heavy.
The YouGov research commissioned by Wolters Kluwer found that 13 per cent of employees felt that they could not take time off from work, while four per cent said they were worried what their employer would think if they requested more time off.
Following the findings, Mike Allen, from Wolters Kluwer’s UK has warned businesses about their responsibility to conform to the Working Time Directive, which aims to ensure employees receive a minimum leave entitlement of 28 days to protect their health and wellbeing.
He also highlights that the reluctance of employees to take their full annual leave entitlement can lead to an increase in short-term absenteeism.
All too often employees opt to pull a ‘sickie’ instead of requesting annual leave for fear of how their employer will react.
But the fact of the matter is that the impact associated with short-term absences is far greater than those that are planned in advance. This is because they occur unexpectedly. There’s costs for overtime, temporary cover and statutory sick pay to consider too!
So, what is the answer?
When it comes to administering holidays and absences there’s no better application than cloud-based workforce management systems.
Holiday administration made easy
Firstly let’s look at holiday requests. Because the latest systems are cloud-based and offer self-service functionality, managers no longer need to get involved in managing employee leave entitlement.
Instead employees are empowered to check their own balances, check which days off have been requested by colleagues, and initiate holiday and absence requests directly to their line managers for approval at the touch of a button.
Staff surveys have found that if people feel trusted to manage their own time the company enjoys absence levels far below the UK national average.
Empowering the workforce to take control of their leave entitlement will encourage them to book their holidays in advance and alleviate any worries they may have about making requests.
Advanced bookings will help managers to schedule and validate staff rosters with greater accuracy around absence requests. In turn, better forecasting of future workloads will release employee time to use their leave entitlement.
Tackling unauthorised absences
As well as supporting managers with the administration of holidays, a key feature of workforce management systems is how easy it is for managers to react quickly and promptly to unauthorised absences.
Integrated real-time alert notifications highlight to managers of any unauthorised absences or breach of company policy the moment they occur e.g. 3 absences in a 3 month period.
Setting trigger alerts according to your absence policy helps to structure the management process so that disciplinary procedures, such as review meetings and return to work catch-ups, can be implemented formally and consistently.
Once an employee exceeds a trigger point, managers can track the individual, identify recurring absence trends and drill down to underlying issues at the earliest opportunity.
Further investigation may reveal that an employee has a relative who’s ill or an underlying health problem that they were reluctant or embarrassed to inform managers.
Initiating open conversations with employees about the reasons for the absence is the first step to assisting their recovery and agreeing what support can be offered to speed up their return to work and reduce future absences, for instance, reduced hours, flexible working.
Adopting a new approach to absences
When evaluating your approach to staff absences the key thing is not to overlook absences as simply a cost of doing business – the reality is that it has a huge knock-on effect for the rest of the business and needs attention. Absences wait for noone!
Better planning of employee leave entitlements together with proactive management of unauthorised absences can help to reduce the impact of staff absences and unearth bottom line savings.