OnBoard Winter 2016 - page 29

Typically, employee absence translates to zero
productivity. People can’t avoid getting sick, of course; but
in a recent Morneau Shepell survey, employees reported
52 per cent of their absences were non-medical. They
took time off for a variety of reasons, including lack of
engagement, job stress, and juggling elder or childcare.
Whether absenteeism is due to illness or otherwise,
absence management has been under-optimized, even
neglected by many organizations. More focus is placed
on administration (obtaining medical notes, etc.) than on
addressing underlying causes.
Given that absenteeism impacts culture, performance
and business results, absence management should be part
of every organization’s people and productivity strategy,
not just a line item on a benefits plan. By focusing on the
right tools and supports to address all absence drivers,
as well as on positive employer-employee relationships,
organizations can transform their workplace.
Here are five ways to start:
Integrate health and wellness, attendance, disability,
and workers’ compensation.
Employers miss an
opportunity to foster an all-inclusive, care-based
environment and optimize administration when
they fail to connect these programs. Integration helps
working employees avoid unnecessary absences, while
those off work are linked to resources to help them
return to a healthy and productive lifestyle.
Implement effective tools to track and manage
absence in the first place.
Many employers still work
with absence reporting systems that provide lagging
data and do not identify early risk. There are cost-
effective solutions that can drive better data, reporting
and workflow management. They not only assist with
real-time support for employees, but they can also
inform business strategy.
Up the game in case management.
Case managers
should be well trained in best-practice disability/
absence management, supported by available tools,
resources and information, both legislative and health-
related. This point is key, as the conditions driving
disability (e.g., mental health) are increasingly complex.
Guarantee privacy.
Employees will not come forward
for help unless they are confident their private lives will
not come under employer scrutiny. A secure third-party
Employee Assistance Program, for example, can help
with reporting and claims management programs that
meet and exceed privacy law requirements.
Equip your leaders.
Leaders are a critical part of
successful absence management. They need the right
tools and knowledge to identify risk, support back-
to-work arrangements and manage stress drivers for
working employees. An investment in skill development
of leaders is essential to a healthy workplace culture.
How an employer treats employees when they are unable
to work is just as important as when they are on the job.
Efficient absence management is an essential component
of every organization’s employment brand and needs to be
part of its engagement strategy.
Morneau Shepell is the only human resources consulting
and technology company that takes an integrative approach
to employee assistance, health, benefits, and retirement
needs. To learn more, visit
or email

By Adam Kelly
Partner and Vice President, Absence Management Solutions, Morneau Shepell
Manage absences, boost productivity
Five key steps to keep your people
healthy, happy and productive
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