Is there room for better absenteeism insights

Ever asked for an Absenteeism Trend report from the WFM team and got view of average absenteeism per day, using a line chart on excel, pointing out which day of the week had the highest absenteeism?

How useful has that been to you, other than just the “oh Tuesdays seem to be the days with highest absenteeism” – what actual value did you get out of it to improve business, or was the outcome to merely be harder on your employees who are absent on those days?

It is difficult to control absenteeism, after all, we are dealing with people and people are emotional, hence our management team should ideally have some sort of management training including the understanding of basic labour laws instead of just promoting the top performing consultant to a manager, but thats a different topic.

If the data was presented to me in the way mentioned above, my first question would be “Why is there such high absenteeism on Tuesdays'”

Based on my experience, the root cause of absenteeism (specifically agents in contact centres) is usually related to four things:

  1. Health related – sick leave longer than 3 days, related to conditions other than the regular Flu.
  2. Job market – New opportunities at other companies, usually occurs with low or high performers.
  3. Workload stress – Inconsistent WFM planning causing staff to take back to back interactions, working shorter breaks and always needing overtime.
  4. General – usually those days whereby the agent just takes a day off due to the usual ‘tummy cramps’ or ‘food poisoning’
Looking at the number of absent days, be it the total or average, in isolation will not provide any insight into understanding your workforce and prevents management from making positive changes in the business to improve employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty – which will ultimately improve CX.The absent reasons provided by staff, are not just an HR statistic, it needs to be a WFM statistic as well seeing that the one and only Resource that WFM plans for, are the Humans– so it only makes sense that WFM has a good understanding of the reasons for the fluctuations in the available resources?If done correctly, the WFM team should be able to provide insights into absenteeism trends based on real world factors, such as a ‘burnout percentage’ which is the increase in absenteeism to expect after a very busy period in the contact centre. While all of this may be covered in your Shrinkage as an overall percentage that is planned for, are you comfortable aiming to come in under the Shrinkage percentage and end the conversation there with no further insight into your staff and business, or is there a chance to pre-empt absenteeism and even resignations to improve the efficiency of your business, considering that majority of the workforce today consists of the Generation Z?

Corey Sewpersad
WFM Leadership | BI Analyst | Financial Planning

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