Outsourcing absence management trend

Managing absenteeism

Outsourcing absence management programs is a rapidly increasing trend due to the high levels of absenteeism in Australia, the associated costs and the impact on employee health and organisational culture. Internal resources spend far too much time dealing with absenteeism, and are seeking additional support to alleviate admin, provide improved reporting, and ideally, support worker health.

Surveys reveal that close to 15% of organisations have outsourced absence management, and a further 7% intend to do so in the next 12 months. This trend is likely to continue to accelerate in the coming years.

HR are seeing the benefit it using a specialist provider to handle the initial notification, data collection, reporting and early intervention to better focus the role of manager and human resources.

Most business leaders are aware of the cost of absenteeism, but ineffective or out-dated systems make it difficult to accurately calculate the real cost of absence and proactively intervene and address the issue. It is important to run the ruler over the true underlying cost of absenteeism – both direct sick pay and indirect costs such as excess headcount to cover leave, overtime, labour hire, and management distraction.

Absenteeism also has a significant impact on employees, impacting morale, workload, stress and mental health, not to mention lost wages and financial burden. In workplaces that need to replace labour, the risk of health, safety and quality issues increase, and management workload becomes more demanding diverting leaders from their core functions.

When deciding to outsource absence recording, it is important to clearly articulate where the program sits in your organisational HR strategy – stakeholder impact, cost savings, employee retention, engagement and health, for example.

For managers, it will free up time, reduce administration, and provide a simplified system to manage employee absence. For employees, it can deliver 24×7 medical advice and referral to other health services such as your  organisation’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). For HR, developing a centralised reporting process provides a consistent approach across the business, including comprehensive reporting and real-time absence data analytics.

Direct Health Solutions introduced nurse-led absence management to Australia 14 years ago and is the forerunner in this space. We are the only provider to offer this service, and it is powered by our proprietary leading-edge AbsenceTrack technology.

What outsourcing absence looks like

Direct Health Solutions provide a 24×7 Absence Reporting Healthline service that all employees call to report an absence.  These calls are handled by trained AHPRA nurses skilled in providing health advice over the phone for employees and their family members. Managers receive real-time alerts through the system, and trigger alerts if employees are exceeding pre-defined levels of absence or have a concerning absence pattern.

When employees return to work, the program provides managers with the reporting, and tools to effectively manage absence and support employees.  The service also provides HR and executive leader-level dashboards which graph hotspots, trends and causes to take remedial action.

Designing a solution

Of course, companies do not want to ‘farm out’ the management of employees.  Managing absenteeism, like all aspects of people management, resides with the employee’s direct line manager. The program design ensures that absence notifications are consistent, and that your policies, med cert requirements, and any other work factors are communicated, every time. Direct Health Solutions advocates that managers focus on building the relationship with the employee and manage the absence upon the individual’s return to work.  Our approach provides a fair and consistent process, and effective real-time reporting that is accurate and informative, to help build employee engagement and wellbeing and optimise attendance outcomes.

So what's in it for employees and managers?

Employees have a simple process to report an absence and receive access to confidential, quality health advice. For many illnesses, which are mild or moderate, they can be effectively triaged over the phone, and health management advice provides on the spot.

For managers, they have less admin, better reporting, and assurance that their employees follow a consistent process. With the system sending notifications, and automatically identifying absence patterns, it makes their role so much easier.

Is this approach right for your business?

Direct Health Solutions is Australia’s leading absence management service provider, with clients of all sizes across all industry sectors accessing our health services. We enable organisations to reduce absence by 25%- 40%, and boost employee engagement and wellbeing.

Contact us for a chat to discuss your absence challenges now.