Should I choose Admin-led or Nurse-led Day-1 Absence Reporting?

Absence is a management issue, not a medical one. That is why similar organisations with similar work profiles can have very different absence levels. The difference is not that the employees in one company are more ill. The difference is that one company is managing absence better than the other one.

Any absence is a cost to the employer, regardless what the line of work or sick pay policies. And if absence is not measured, it can’t be managed. Therefore, experts recommend absences should be recorded before they become a problem. However, if you’re looking for a solution to turn around a culture of poor attendance, it is never too late to start.

Introducing absence policies and investing in a reliable absence recording and reporting system highlights the issue of absenteeism. This usually has a direct impact on attendance. In the long term, the investment is almost guaranteed to pay for itself. Through savings in sick pay, replacement staff and management time. A data-driven absence management approach provides the basis for robust absence policies and helps turn your policy points into proactive management actions.

The Day-1 Concept

Day-1 Absence reporting service gathers absence data from the first day of absence. Details are recorded centrally on behalf of companies looking to proactively manage absence more effectively and reduce cost. The data is recorded in a central database and all relevant stakeholders are notified of the absence straight away. A third-party provider like Honeydew can handle the absence registration on the employer’s behalf. This alleviates the admin burden at the point of absence registration. This type of Day-1 Absence reporting is delivered via a 24/7 dedicated absence reporting line.

There are 2 main approaches to this service to gather employees’ absence data: Administrator-led and Nurse-led model. The Administrator-led model can be supported by Occupational Health (OH) for management advice on complex medical cases. Both approaches provide a level of care and support to the employee. However, only one approach also considers the managerial implications in dealing with employees’ absences and provides the necessary support to improve attendance.

Admin-led vs. Nurse-led

On one hand, there is the notion that having a 24/7 access to qualified nurses over the phone will help the employee return to work much faster. The nurses on the phone provide a primary care service to the employee. The service is organised in a similar way to the free NHS 111 Helpline offers. However, this approach does not provide any management advice to the employer.

Advice from a regular nurse provided at the point of absence registration can complicate the management procedure of individuals with a concerning absence pattern. If an employee is recommended bed rest by a nurse when they report their absence, it can become difficult for the line manager to raise concerns about that employee’s absence level or pattern of absence and even more difficult to take formal action.

Alternatively, a company can opt to follow an Admin-led approach. The data is collected as described above, and managers are immediately aware of new absence trends and required actions as per the company’s absence policy. The basis of good absence management is on good absence data. To be truly fair and equal, everyone’s absence must be recorded in the same way and the managers should follow the same process across the company. Having a clever software doing your number crunching and analysis frees up management time for more value-adding tasks.

Furthermore, data-driven absence management will empower line managers to take objective decisions without unnecessarily medicalising absence management. Line managers play an important role when it comes to effectively manage absence, with the right training and data tools line managers can spot the early warning signs of potential problems and offer support before matters escalate.

Proactive Approachs lean on OH where medical input is needed

The Admin-led Day-1 absence reporting aligned with proactive Occupational Health (OH) support provides employers with a holistic approach. The live data allows employers to identify the top reasons for lost working time. This lets managers act accordingly as per company absence policies, while the OH support will help with definitive advice on employee fitness to work should this be required. A recent CIPD report suggests that HR regards Occupational Health (OH) services as one of the most effective methods of addressing long-term health conditions and absence in their organisation.

An OH referral is recommended, for instance, when someone is absent due to stress or musculo-skeletal illnesses or has just sent in a sick note for 2+ weeks. In these cases, management advice can be sought from a clinician with a specialism in Occupational medicine, meaning that they understand the implications of work as well as the condition itself. Ideally, management will share the company policies and the employee’s job description with the clinician. This will result in advice tailored to their workplace. After the OH assessment, the manager will get a management report that clearly states the employee’s fitness to work. The manager will have impartial and independent advice from a clinician to base their follow-up actions on.

A registered general nurse will not have this knowledge. They may also have limited experience in dealing with the work-related implications of complex conditions. Their role is to offer advice to the employee. It’s not to help line managers offer employees the right level of support. Honeydew’s view is to save the employer’s money at the point of registration by not duplicating NHS primary care services for all staff. Instead, this money can be better spent getting specialist advice on the 20% of absences, that do require medical input.

How Can Honeydew Absence Management Software Help?

Choosing a “best-fit” approach depends on the employer’s motivation for implementing Day-1 absence reporting in the first place. If the employer is seeking to offer better primary care provision for their employees, then the nurse-led option is a great benefit to do just that. However, if the employer’s goal is to effectively reduce unnecessary unplanned – medical and non-medical – absence, then the data-driven route will deliver better and more cost-effective results.

Effective absence management starts with good data. Honeydew’s Engage software integrates the data element into absence management, making it easy to record, analyse and take action. It provides employers with a real-time data toolkit leading to better decisions, early intervention and increased productivity and profitability.

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