In recent years, due to converging workforce trends (the pandemic, staff shortages, etc.), absence reporting and management have shifted from routine administrative tasks to becoming critical workflow processes that have a significant impact. In particular, organizations operating in complex environments such as healthcare are feeling the pressure the most. Some of the most sophisticated organizations are still using shockingly manual absence management methods; methods that introduce a higher likelihood of scheduling errors, employee dissatisfaction, and understaffing challenges. Further, manual tracking methods provide no visibility into the criticality/priority level of filling the vacant shifts that these absences create; schedulers are operating in the dark. And with over 1 million people absent from work every month in the United States, the need for a more efficient and streamlined absence management approach cannot be understated.
So what can we do to combat these challenges? Read on to find out the top four “must-haves” to look for in an absence management solution:
Scheduling teams are struggling to keep up with the demands of absence reporting, let alone their other tasks. The first crucial step in effective absence management is promptly knowing that an absence exists, which is inherently challenging with manual processes. Since absences are often last-minute, automating the reporting and management steps ensures they are handled as quickly as possible. Employees no longer need to wait on hold or have a live interaction with their manager to report their absence, and schedulers don’t have to spend time individually calling employees to fill the shift. This not only reduces the time spent filling a vacancy and mitigating understaffing challenges, but it also helps reduce human errors in the system, resulting in more fair and accurate staffing practices.
Workforce Management Software Integration
Finding an absence management tool that integrates directly with your organization’s existing workforce management/scheduling ecosystem provides enormous benefits to your process. By enabling seamless two-way communication between your systems, the need for double data entry is eliminated, while ensuring changes are always up-to-date. This integration is essential, particularly in high-volume environments, where there can be hundreds or even thousands of employee absences in a single day.
Every organization has different, unique needs when it comes to absence reporting and management. That's why configurable software solutions are key to developing an effective absence management workflow. Configuration can include defining absence types, approval workflows, and data insights. By enabling organizations to adapt their absence management system to suit their specific processes, the result is a more seamless change management process and optimized efficiency.
Data insights are integral to driving informed decision-making. An advanced absence reporting solution should provide comprehensive analytics to help you understand patterns, trends, and potential vulnerabilities. For example, insights can provide visibility into the frequency and duration of absences across different departments or job roles. Analyzing this data can help you identify patterns such as recurring absences on specific days of the week or during specific seasons. For example, you may discover that your emergency department is constantly understaffed during weekend day shifts. Having visibility into these insights empowers you to take proactive measures to mitigate the effects of this, by scheduling additional staff for those days in advance or helping you identify and prioritize the most critical unplanned absences to fill first when they enter the system. These measures help mitigate the impact of understaffing and ensure optimal resource allocation, even during vulnerable shifts.