Being Human

Absence Management.

In those two words, the focus is predominantly placed on absence. What is the reason? How long will he be off work? How will we handle the work while she is away?

The key to successful absence management is to focus on the management part. And to do that well, means being human.

What do I mean by being human? I mean moving away from HR connotations and considerations as to what a certain action might mean later in “the process”.

Treating colleagues and employees as human and being human is the key to successful managing staff absences.

I am sometimes asked how to deal with complaints and my first response is “be human”. Listen to what the complainant says. Put yourself in their position and understand why they feel the way they do.

The same is true for managing staff absence. Most people want to be at work. Being on sick leave, let along long-term sick leave, is not fun. So when dealing with it, empathise with the employee. Try and understand how frustrating it must be for them. How difficult it must be.

Yes, there is the possibility that long-term sickness absence might require formal disciplinary action at some point in the future. But, members of the HR community will know that the key thing is fairness. Fairness in the process.

Going through a formal process for the sake of it runs the risk of being perceived by the employee as unfair. Being human, and working with a colleague who is on sick leave with a clear view to having them return to work is more likely to result in them perceiving the process to be fair. As you empathise with them as regards their position, so they are more likely to empathise with yours.

This means a better outcome for all concerned, irrespective of what that outcome is.

Be Human and focus on the management, not the absence.