Is Absence Management a function that you can outsource? Or is it too personal, as an emotive area of workplace conflict and stress reduction?
This issue was put to the test when a previous client and friend of mine, Aisha, was appointed HR Director of one of UAE’s biggest vending-machine operators. It was a huge impersonal group, which had been suffering a steep rise in absence – too much to be coincidence, clearly a case of bad attendance spreading from one employee to the next. And the stress effects on management were impossible to ignore.
Arriving in her new job, she found that the team were largely untrained in Absence Management, and they did not know where to start in solving their escalating problem. She felt that the right solution was to retain someone of my background. But the trouble was, the company had a firm policy against outsourcing.
With difficulty, she managed to procure a budget for us to come in and train the HR staff (though not the line managers, unfortunately), and we had to be in and out in six weeks. This meant organising a ‘lightning’ version of our usual training programme, and I was worried that it might not be enough. But we made a good job of the first session, explaining the importance of the mission, and that small, young team quickly understood their own importance.
Soon they were listening attentively and responding well, and I could feel that we were getting through to them.
After a short interval, the newly-trained team was able to conduct its own Absence Management agenda, so avoiding the one big drawback to outsourcing – that it would set up an atmosphere of mistrust, with all employees being treated as malingerers until proved otherwise. And before long, the company did thankfully manage to reverse its disastrous absence record.
Have you heard of Absence Management being successfully outsourced?
Tell us what happened – or just what you think and feel about common workplace situations like this. In our readers-comments box. Now!
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