Managing Unplanned Absences

May 8, 2019

eism is real and has tangible effects, not just on managers, but the whole team. As a matter of fact, absence not only disrupts organizations and adds to everyone’s workload, but also causes a lot of stress because deadlines still need to be met. This leaves managers scrambling to find a replacement or having to shell out overtime to make up for lost productivity. It also creates a snowball effect among your employees – if people are overworked their quality of work will be reduced, which reflects badly on the team, hurting morale and lowering employee satisfaction. But don’t despair, here are some absence management suggestions that can help keep that avalanche of consequences at bay.

1. Ensure that contact info is up to date

There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get in touch with employees when you need them because their contact information is outdated. If you don’t already have a policy in place to have employees review and update their contact information a couple of times a year, you might want to consider it. Making the process easy for employees to update their information will increase the likelihood that it will get done. With that said, ensure that your automated HR system is set up to allow employees to update their contact information via the desktop. If your system also provides a mobile app, even better! Employees can update their contact information right from their phone while they go about their busy day. Don’t have an automated system yet? Well, it’s time to have a conversation about that! Automation can save you time and money so you can focus on the important stuff.

2. Take the guesswork out of getting the right person to fill in

Although it would make things so much easier, more times than not you can’t pull just anyone in to fill in for an unplanned absence. You need to look at the skills, certifications, etc. required for the shift and then generate a list of qualified available employees to call in. Ensure that your automated HR system is set up to identify the available employees with the right skills and certifications that can potentially take the unexpected open shift you’re trying to fill. At the very least you should be able to run a report to gather this information, but some systems even do the work for you and automatically display the best matches for the shift you need to fill. Either way, you will be able to pinpoint the right person for the job, literally.

3. Help employees help you

As was mentioned earlier, the easier and more convenient something is to do the more likely people are to do it. So why not let your employees help you find coverage when they’re not able to work a shift? Stay with me on this one. This goes back to having the right tools in place to make things easier all around. A strong automated HR system will have the capability to allow employees to perform a variety of different actions through self-service, like swapping shifts or requesting coverage, all while suggesting available employees to take on those shifts who meet the criteria around skills, certifications, minimum/maximum hours, budgets, etc. Ideally, like updating their contact information, employees would have the ability to perform shift swap and coverage requests both on a desktop or on the go through their mobile phone. This is a win-win because your employees can attain more of a work/life balance and you have less unexpected absences to deal with – all while having the peace of mind knowing that you have the right person with the right skills working the right shifts.

Absences can’t be predicted, but with simple strategies and technology the burden of absence management can be eased. The simplest things like keeping employee contact information up to date, ensuring managers have the ability to run reports with the data they need to fill an open shift, and providing employees with self-service tools to manage their schedules can make all the difference in preventing an unplanned absence from sidetracking your day.

This article was originally published at

Francesca Amato is a product marketing manager with Kronos Incorporated. She can be reached at

Written by:  Francesca Amato

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