Maximizing productivity with effective absence management

Summary: With an ever-changing regulatory environment, leaves of absence can be complicated and time-consuming for employers to track. By outsourcing absence management and having the right program in place, employers can help lessen their administrative burden, while improving productivity and retaining valuable talent.


Absence management is more than knowing which employees are on leave and for how long. It’s is an umbrella term for leaves due to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), state Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFL) laws, other federal and state leaves, company leaves of absence, and disability — and it’s an essential component for a company to manage its workforce.

These leaves affect employees and employers alike. A comprehensive absence management strategy effectively coordinates, manages, tracks, and reports on employee leaves and absences.

There is an overall business value to employee wellness: In the United States, employers paid almost $880 billion in healthcare costs for their employees and their dependents — with poor health costing another $530 billion in lost productivity. When executed properly, an absence management program can help lower costs, improve productivity, and retain talent.

A complex regulatory environment

There are nuances involved with absence management, including various leave laws. Federal and state FMLA, as well as the state-mandated paid and unpaid leaves, for instance, are highly regulated. As such, they can be time-consuming and difficult to track. In fact, U.S. employers have had to adapt how they manage employee absences in response to changing leave laws at the federal, state, and local levels. One survey of employers found that nearly two-thirds (64%) had to add resources to handle new leave mandates and that improving FMLA administration was their top priority for their absence programs.

The right absence management program can help a company navigate the complexity of these regulations and remain compliant. When employers outsource their absence management, the burden of compliance for their human resources department can be reduced.

The 4 C’s of absence management

By integrating disability and absence management with one carrier, companies can help ensure that their employees who need to take leave understand the benefits they are eligible for and that the benefits are appropriately coordinated. In addition, the carrier can help employees return to work safely and productively — and possibly avoid a leave altogether. The carrier has a big-picture look at relevant data to help track and manage leaves. That advantage enables the carrier to engage employees earlier in the leave process and even offer early interventions that may help employees regain their full health, stay at work, or return to work as quickly as safely possible.

A successful absence management solution encompasses these four aspects:

  1. Coordination: Reviewing all applicable types of leave for which an employee qualifies, including disability, FMLA, and other federal and state leave laws, as well as assisting with Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations.

  2. Consistency: Applying leaves consistently across all locations in an organization.

  3. Compliance: Remaining well-versed in changes at all levels of leave laws to avoid penalties.

  4. Communication: Ensuring employers and their employees are aware of the benefits and leaves available and how to apply for them, as well as reporting on utilization.

The health and well-being of their employees is already top of mind for many employers, as evidenced in their corporate missions and the benefits they offer. Having an absence management program in place not only helps manage employee absences but also helps promote employee wellness.

COVID-19 Resources: Managing Your Business During a Crisis