Absence management is always a key responsibility for HR and line managers, but it’s likely to need extra attention this summer. Employees might want time off at short notice, or some may still be nervous about taking leave and want to carry it over. To maintain business agility and a healthy workforce, HR needs to stay on the front foot with absence management, considering people’s needs and different resourcing scenarios.

absence management app mobile

Do you know what your business leaders’ plans are for your organisation for the rest of the year?

Good absence management relies on an understanding of resourcing needs. So, staying close to your business leaders is crucial when plans for the organisation might be constantly changing and adapting due to COVID-19.

  • If your business intends to operate for longer hours for the rest of the year to try to recover from COVID-19 – for example, the retail sector was given a greenlight to do this – are you ready to work with your line managers to adjust how they approach absence within their teams to meet increased staffing demands?
  • If your board decides to change your organisation’s service offering at short notice to take advantage of a new opportunity that comes up as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, will you know about it quickly enough to help managers and teams accommodate new demands?

Do you have an up-to-date skeleton-staff plan for your business?

An exercise that would be useful for HR and managers to undertake now is to determine what a skeleton staff would look like for the business. You may have done this previously, but things have no doubt changed over the past year.

  • What’s the minimum headcount, and in each department, that you can continue operating with?

Sharing this information with line managers will help your business make intelligent absence decisions so you’re not left short staffed.

Could you be fairer/more flexible about approving absence requests and carryover allocations?

As the year goes on, some staff members might continue to be reluctant to book leave due to travel uncertainties, and others might want to hold off because of higher-than-normal workloads that they wish to prioritise over holidays.

  • If your staff want to carry over more leave than is mandated by the Government, what flexibility is your organisation able to offer, being mindful of staying within legal requirements and maintaining a duty of care to your employees?

A modern HR software system, like Cezanne HR, makes it easy for line managers to keep up to date with their team’s holiday entitlements. This allows managers to work with people to ensure leave is taken, with plenty of notice given, avoiding being short staffed.

Managing absences fairly is critical, too, and there is plenty HR can do set the right expectations and help line managers take the right approach. You can read about this in our article: ‘Why HR needs to get on top of holiday absence management now’. We also highlight the Government’s carryover rule changes in light of COVID-19.

What will you do if staff want to holiday overseas and/or in higher COVID-19 risk areas?

It’s wise for HR and line managers to have plans in place for managing staff if they visit somewhere that carries a high COVID-19 risk and then have to isolate/quarantine and not attend work.

  • Will you try to provide advice to your workforce about safe holiday options?
  • What will you do if someone chooses to holiday somewhere that then necessitates an unexpected absence from on-site work?
  • Can you accommodate people needing to work from home – and potentially at short notice – or will that leave you short staffed?

HR should discuss these questions with senior management, and communicate the business’ expectations with their workforce.

Is your HR software up to the challenge of managing and communicating about absence?

To manage absence requests and approvals, and communications around absence expectations and processes, HR professionals need comprehensive absence management software.

Cezanne HR’s Absence Management module allows all employees to see their holiday balances and submit requests for leave. Managers can then easily and immediately approve or deny the leave as required.

HR can also use Cezanne HR to communicate absence management policies, emailing links to policy documents as needed. If acknowledgement is required, Cezanne HR offers e-signature functionality that employees can use to show they’ve read/agreed to the policy. HR can also communicate with staff about general absence updates via a Cezanne HR Workspace, or SMS – choosing the medium/s that best suit the business and situation.

A final thought

With the best will in the world, businesses might still find themselves short staffed during these unpredictable times. Do you have a strategy for communicating with customers if your staff levels drop below what’s needed to maintain your normal customer service levels? It’s worth coming up with one before a crisis arises.

To find out more about how Cezanne HR can help you with absence management, please book a personal demonstration of the system with us.

Useful reading on absence management






Shandel McAuliffe author image

Shandel McAuliffe

Now based in sunny Australia, Shandel is prolific writer and editor - particularly in the world of HR. She's worked for some big names, including the CIPD and the Adecco Group. And more recently, she's been the Editor for new HR publication HR Leader.