Five ways employee self-service can improve absence management and reduce absences



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6 mins


Reducing absence (and the associated costs) should be a priority for all organisations. But to do so, HR teams first need to capture accurate absence data so they can understand and analyse trends that’ll help them devise an absence-reduction strategy.

Employee self-service HR software allows organisations to accurately capture this information. Read on for five ways it can help to improve absence management and reduce absences.


How employee self-service is used to reduce absences and improve absence management

From easy access to absence policies and wellness initiatives to better record keeping and visibility, employee self-service is a useful tool for absence management and reduction.


1. Employees can enter their own absence records

The most accurate and efficient way to capture employee data is to allow your employees to enter it themselves into your absence management software. By using our HRIS systems, employees can easily submit how long they will be off and the reason for their absence. This information will then automatically be sent to their line manager for approval.

The more accurate the data, the more accurate the data analysis results will be, which will help HR teams when devising absence reduction strategies. Additionally, knowing absences will be recorded and viewed by their line managers in real time may discourage employees from taking time off for reasons that aren’t genuine.

2. Absence records are easily accessible

Having absence records and history readily available makes it easy to keep track of the total number of days accrued and to see any patterns to an employee’s absence. If an employee has a less-than-satisfactory record, being able to see it visually on-screen and knowing that management and HR have the same visibility can be a very effective way of discouraging similar behaviour in the future.

Our HR software allows employees, managers and HR teams to have an easy overview of time taken off and reasons why, all in one place. Annual leave management can be found here as well, so everyone can see how much holiday an individual has taken and how many days they have left to take. Employees can view time off across their department, helping to spread out holiday across the team throughout the year – no one wants to come into work one day to discover they’re the only person not on leave.

HR teams can use this data to track absence trends across departments. Line managers, on the other hand, can use this functionality for a detailed overview of who on their team is working and when, allowing them to better manage deadlines and workloads. Employees can visualise their own personal absence trends, as well as view and plan any holiday they wish to take.

3. Return to work (RTW) interviews can be easily logged

Return to work (RTW) interviews are often used to discourage non-genuine sickness. The knowledge that there will be an interview with a manager upon their return to work will often be enough to reduce unnecessary sick days from being taken. For genuine absences, these interviews are an effective way to discuss how the employee is feeling and see if they need any additional support.

RTW interviews also serve as a forum for a manager to enquire as to whether the workplace has had any influence on the employee’s health – if it did, the reason can be addressed to eliminate further problems.

Our HR software makes RTW interviews easy. Managers can simply create a new RTW record; they are greeted with a selection of questions to ask their employee upon their return to work. The manager can then set up a call with said employee, go through the list of questions and submit the form. If necessary, follow up interviews can be put in place should an illness be ongoing or long-term.

This information all adds up to help you create a holistic view of wellness – you’ll understand why employees were absent from work, if they are ready to return to work, and interventions that might be useful in the future to prevent further absences. But these data-collection efforts rest on line manager buy-in and compliance – you may need to work hard to ensure that these records are filled in on time, every time.

4. Absence policies are clear and visible

Ensuring that you have well-written, practical absence policies is imperative. They should explain the processes to follow in the event of any time of absence, from sickness and annual leave to parental leave. Creating attendance and absence policies will help employees understand what standards are expected of them, as well as ensuring that managers deal with employee absence in a fair and consistent way.

Our HR software makes accessing these types of policies simple. They can be listed publicly in a ‘company document’ section, allowing your employees to access them whenever they want. You also have the option to ask employees to read and confirm that they have understood these policies – which has the added benefit of improving compliance.

5. HR can list wellness benefits

You can use your self-service portal to list any organisational initiatives you have in place to promote health and wellbeing. At Ciphr, for example, we use our HR software to list our company benefits, which include both physical and mental wellbeing initiatives. From gym loans, cycle to work schemes and medical cover to family National Trust memberships and employee assistance programmes, our employees’ health is at the forefront of our minds.

Promoting physical and mental wellbeing may help your employees lead healthier lifestyles, from hitting the gym to getting the mental health support they need. This can lead to reduced absences – after all, a physically healthy and mentally well employee will be more motivated to come into work.

Further reading – Employee experience: moving the dial on moments that matter


Transform absence management with Ciphr’s HR software

Harnessing the power of employee self-service helps improve absence management and minimise employee absences. From empowering employees to log their own absence records to clearly outlining expectations, our HR software enhances visibility and promotes responsible leave practices. Take the first step towards a more efficient and healthier workplace – book a demo or download our brochure today to explore the full range of possibilities.

Not quite ready to commit to a demo just yet? Why not read more about our HR software solutions?


This article was first published in April 2014. It was updated in November 2023 for freshness, clarity and accuracy.