Know your data

Nurse working on computer

  • Have a clear, agreed process for reporting and recording absence.
  • Minimise obstacles to enable accurate recording.
  • Regularly review and use the data.

Have a clear agreed process for reporting and recording absence

Having up-to-date, real-time data is really important to help you gain an accurate picture of what is happening in your organisation. 

Ensure the process for recording absence is as simple and clear as possible, and expectations are known and actioned to ensure consistent data. 

Here are some quick tips to keep things simple: 

  • Make sure managers know how to report and record absence accurately.
  • Ensure that codes for absence are understood and easy to apply.
  • Streamline processes for recording sickness absence across the organisation.
  • Be clear on how staff should report sickness absence – should they contact their managers? Should this be a phone call or text message?
  • Consider the follow-up process – should managers contact their staff if they have not spoken to them directly? 

Minimise obstacles to enable accurate recording

Ensure managers know where to go for clarity if they are not sure how to code an absence. This will reduce the number of ‘not known’ absence reasons logged. 

There shouldn’t be staff absent from work without the manager or occupational health being aware of the reason. A manager cannot support a staff member if they don’t know the reason for absence. 

Ask managers for feedback on the process for recording absence so that obstacles can be addressed. Without accurate data, sickness absence cannot be fully understood. 

Regularly review and use the data

Ensure the data you are collecting provides the information you need. Clear objectives will enable you to assess the data you need to collect.

Review the data and look for patterns and hot spots, identifying these will:

  • enable you to take a targeted approach
  • implement interventions to prevent further absences
  • involve support services such as occupational health or manual handling.

This also promotes an overall organisational approach to supporting staff wellbeing and managing absence. 

Providing regular data to the board enables them to see the cost of sickness absence and the impact on the organisation. When submitting data to the board be clear on what information is needed and how it will be used. This will ensure you are providing the right information, supporting narrative and areas requiring action.

You can find out more about how to use your data on our demographics web page and our metrics web page.

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