December 15, 2017

Archie Anderson: The Problem with Absence

By: Archie Anderson, President, Options & Choices, Inc. (OCI)

The problem with employee absence for employers is not that it occurs. Absences from the workplace will happen. Employees take well deserved, earned vacation and paid time off. Employees will get sick and miss time from work. Some employees will become injured on the job; some even serious enough that will require missed work time. There will be maternity leaves and there will be absence needs of employees due to bereavement and other family and personal related needs. And, many types of absence today are subject to complicated Federal and/or State leave rules and regulations that require compliance.

The problem with employee absence is not even that it is difficult to manage. It most certainly can be. The problem with total absence is not just that it costs employers money. The real problem with absence is that determining the total absence exposure and costs associated with absence are very challenging, because to begin with, all the various types of absence and leave incidents reside in various administrative processes and systems.

Most commonly, employers house their paid time off and sick leave type information either in their HRIS (human resource information system) and/or a time and attendance system. Many employers outsource these time/attendance and payroll functions to the various processors that exist to provide this service. Also, most employers do not administer their workers’ compensation processing while either transferring that function to their insurance underwriter or claims administrative vendor. And, the great majority of employers do not self-administer their long-term disability program while many do process their own short-term disability program – if they even have one.

So, to even start to determine total absence exposure – how many employees are absent on any given day, why they are absent, and what is the cost of that exposure – requires most employers to try and obtain the various types of information from the many sources where these incidents are derived and recorded. HRIS, time/attendance, workers’ compensation and disability program systems were never designed to operate in concert with one another. Thus, most employers are left to their own devices to grapple with gathering and combining the many bits of information in order to measure, track and evaluate their true total absence exposure.

What’s absence costing my organization? What are my short-term employee replacement costs? How much productivity am I losing due to planned and unplanned absences? What are my costs to administer and combine this information in order to get to a measurement? These are just some of the questions that employers who are interested and invested in managing their total absence exposure ask of themselves.

There are processes and systems designed to facilitate the combination of the many and disparate information sources in order to answer some of these big questions much more productively. However, employers must first decide that better understanding the impact of total absence to their organization is important. And, then, to invest the time to evaluate and analyze the who’s, what’s, where’s and why’s of absence.

About Archie Anderson
Archie Anderson is President of Options & Choices, Inc. (OCI), a Denver-based software and data integration firm that helps companies make better-informed decisions about their human resource, employee benefit, risk management and information technology dependent programs. Anderson has over 25 years experience in the workers’ compensation, employee benefits and HR fields. Prior to OCI, Anderson served as President of Intracorp and in a number of leadership posts over an eighteen-year career at GENEX Services.

About OCI
Options & Choices, Inc. (OCI)OCI (Options & Choices, Inc.) is a software and data integration provider that helps companies make better-informed decisions about their human resources, employee benefit, risk management and information technology dependent programs.

OCI’s FastTrackTM Suite of Services offers data integration and software services to improve operational efficiencies and lower costs. Products include LeaveXpert™ – a total absence and leave management automation solution, claims data conversion services, and broad-based data management, warehousing and business intelligence for human resources, employee benefits, risk management and technology managers.

Using secure web-based applications, a flexible, client-centric approach and deep industry experience, OCI’s solutions transform data into information and knowledge, giving its customers the power to increase administrative efficiency, reduce expenditures and improve productivity.

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