Why should you manage absence?

No two organisations face the same challenges, which is why there’s no one-size-fits-all ‘solution’ to absence and wellbeing issues.

Here, we explore just some of the reasons why organisations have partnered with us to get a handle on employee absence.

Employee wellbeing.

A growing priority for leaders at large organisations.

Besides being the right thing to do, supporting your people’s health means less absence, and increases your appeal as an employer.

And that’s important, with the concept of ‘employee as customer’ increasingly coming to the fore, and more jobs available than qualified people to fill them. For employees, right now, it’s a buyer’s market. 

“The GoodShape partnership has enabled managers to focus their support on their colleagues, by reducing the time needed to manage the data.”
- Operations planning manager, London Stansted Airport.

“By using GoodShape’s data we were able to spot trends in the number of employees suffering with mental health issues, which led to long term absence. This helped us respond proactively. We trained our staff to recognise mental health symptoms, and introduced employee support officers and stress audits.”
- HR support officer, Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council. 


Inextricably linked with employee wellbeing.

Having a system that tells you – in real-time – who is off, why, and for how long, enables you to plan more effectively, redeploy staff from around your business, and even forecast seasonal trends so you have contingency for times of high demand or absence. The benefits are powerful, for example: helping manufacturers to avoid costly downtime, or mitigating the knock-on effects on supply chains that dominated the headlines during the COVID pandemic.

“As GoodShape operate a 24/7 service, the Trust had real-time absence information which was crucial [during COVID] for speedy decision making. From redeploying staff to ensure essential services were appropriately covered, to ensuring staff who were absent could receive duty of care calls, enabling them to receive medical advice, occupational health referrals, psychological support and even access to food parcels supplied by hospital charities.”
- Senior HR business partner and attendance improvement lead,
NHS Foundation Trust.

“We estimate that we’ve saved £152,000 in terms of increased productivity and efficiency savings. This means that the absence service has provided a great return on investment and having more employees available to work gives us a far greater opportunity to deliver a good service for our customers. And that can only be a good thing.”
- Head of HR, Ealing Council.


A perennial business priority, but never more so
than in the lean, post-pandemic world of work.

Many organisations fail to track the direct costs of absence, let alone indirect costs such as admin, overtime, and fees associated with replacement workers. Effective absence management helps you to quantify that expenditure, and measure the savings that you make through better supporting your people. 

“Year on year, the figures have improved, and we’ve saved more than £500,000 since we launched the system.”
- HR director, Bouygues Energies & Services. 


Operating a business with insufficient staff poses
risk, from patient care in hospitals to customer care
in hospitality and retail.

Equally risky is having people at work who are medically unfit to perform their job properly. Absence management with a clinical element helps you to both maintain optimal staffing levels and ensure that absent staff only return to work when they are well enough to do so. It also provides you with bulletproof absence documentation and, by using customisable triggers and alerts, it ensures you remain compliant with in-house employment policies - both crucial in cases of employment tribunal.

“GoodShape trigger potential RIDDORreportable absences to the Health and Safety team, ensuring that such incidents can be investigated as soon as possible.

“Furthermore, several triggers are in place to highlight when employees may require further health and wellbeing support. For example, there is an alert whereby GoodShape nurses will make Occupational Health referral recommendations on dayone of absences to help facilitate earlier intervention and to encourage managers to refer employees to appropriate support services. This has contributed to achieving a 47% reduction in the average length of stress-related absences.”
- Derby Homes case study. 


Understanding the scale and impact of absence
is complex, particularly in large organisations.

Formalising your absence management processes helps you to accurately identify the root causes of wellbeing issues affecting your people and highlight any hotspots that might exist. Data like this helps you to build a compelling business case for Board-level investment into targeted wellbeing support, and enables you to demonstrate the positive effect of your interventions, delivering powerful ESG and CSR metrics to strengthen client and investor relationships.

What’s more, you’ll be the first to know about emerging wellbeing issues. Our data, for example, tracked the rate of COVID cases up to two weeks in advance of Government-released figures, helping employers to take proactive steps to safeguard employee health, minimise business disruption, and protect communities. 

“... when we are alerted to high levels of absence, such as musculoskeletal problems in the factory, we can proactively address them because we now have clear trigger levels in place.”
- HR Director, Philips


Without a formalised approach, it’s virtually impossible to ensure consistent and compliant treatment of absence across your organisation.

Unique employee-manager relationships, operational pressures, and a significant lack of in-house expertise in handling sensitive wellbeing issues (*45% of UK managers have received no training) makes for an infinite variety of approaches and outcomes. The larger your organisation or more dispersed your workforce, the bigger the challenge becomes.

Outsourcing your absence management ensures fair and consistent treatment every time, while relieving pressures on line managers so they can focus on maintaining productivity. When it’s time for employees to come back, managers are supported to carry out a compliant return-to-work process, ensuring employee safety and strengthening relationships.

“We no longer have an ad-hoc approach to our absence reporting. Instead, we have absolute clarity on our absence levels.”
- HR Director, Philips

“We would recommend GoodShape to other organisations who want to streamline processes and reduce absence.”
- HR business partner, Heathrow Express

Read more on absence management in our case study here.

* ‘Why employee wellbeing isn’t working. And what you need to do about it.’
GoodShape with Ipsos, March 2022.

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