LEAVE MANAGEMENT

7 ways to boost productivity with absence management

Being one of his time's brightest minds, Benjamin Franklin, born in 1785, has enriched the world with multiple ideas and inventions. From electricity to political philosophy, his interests seem to dwarf one of the key concepts that transform today’s world - productivity.

Benjamin Franklin used to follow a strict hourly schedule and make to-do lists, all way before the era of internet productivity gurus. Chased by time, Benjamin Franklin was fully aware that he had only a limited amount of hours in his life to follow all his bright ideas and pursue his goals.

Over two centuries later, armed with smartphones and apps of all kinds, we still fight with uneasy odds to boost productivity - both personal and organizational.

This text covers:

  • Productivity stats and current status
  • Absence management essentials
  • Employee self-service and UX
  • Leave calendar available for everyone
  • Hybrid work
  • Integrations with core apps
  • Analytics
  • Automation
  • Culture of transparency

Enjoy your reading!

Productivity stats 2022

Benjamin Franklin used to start his day every 5 a.m. and ask himself “What good shall I do this day”. Later, his day was divided into time blocked for work, meals, and daily chores, ending every day at 9 p.m. when he asked himself “what good have I done today?”.

While a polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States would probably answer this question easily, a typical employee at 2022 struggles to do so oftentimes. According to the Zippia study, an average worker is productive for no more than 2 hours and 53 minutes every 8-hour working day.

This is seen by the employee and the employer alike, with only 7% of employees feeling productive in their workplace. Also, employees tend to spend up to 32% of their daily time on Facebook, costing their employers up to $28 billion each year.

Spending one hour in three working hours on Facebook rarely can be considered a “good thing done today”.

Why do you need to increase productivity?

Productive companies enjoy up to 50% higher operating margins than their less productive competition. The research shows that the market leaders are 40% more productive on average than the rest of the market.

Also, the Covid and war-related crises encourage companies around the world to reduce spending and increase income due to the harsh times incoming. Boosting productivity by optimization is one of the key methods to do so, especially if it can be done with little to no spending.

Project management and all the productivity industry come with many answers - from simple to-do lists to the Getting Things Done approach. The productivity software market was worth 41.90 Billion USD in 2020 and is estimated to grow to 122.70 billion USD by 2028.

Yet there are many hidden ways to boost productivity today, with smart and conscious absence management being one of them.

Why do you need an absence management system?

Boosting productivity without the absence management system in place is impossible. Without it, the sole process of managing the leaves is a burden that can be overwhelming for a company.

According to a DMEC survey quoted by Calamari, an average company needs to employ one (up to three) full-time employees to handle the leaves. The biggest companies surveyed (with a headcount of over 20 thousand) need to employ 10 full-time specialists or more to handle the leaves only. The process of handling the leaves is dull and full of paperwork - a perfect candidate to be automated using a software solution like Calamari.

No matter how small (or how big) the company is, the absences are unavoidable. Currently, there are multiple types of leave to process and handle in a compliant and responsible way, including:

  • *Sick leaves - depending on the local legislation, the employee has a varied number of leave days, either paid or unpaid. The legal situation requires a lot of paperwork, for example, a note from a doctor or documents that need to be processed by the social security system;
  • Paid time off - again, depending on the legislation, there either may or may not be a paid time off for an employee;
  • Parental leaves - parental leave occurs when the employee has a time off from work to take care of their child, usually a newborn. There are multiple factors that influence this type of leave - from the legal framework to the company’s policy and approach;
  • Anything else - there can be multiple other leaves to deal with. Starting from accidents, to funerals of the members of the family to taking a day off to attend the kid’s graduation.

The leave management system forces the order and compliance in the leaves one would like to take. These are good reasons to implement the leave management system on their own. But the productivity boosts are what we are here for, right?

Absence management and productivity boosts - key elements

The absences, either unplanned or poorly planned, can wreak havoc on the company’s plans and goals. “Wreaking havoc” is always about dropping productivity - but on the flip side, when done properly, the absence of management comes with significant boosts.

Employee self-service and UX

Self-service of the employee is when one can do nearly all the process of the leave without engaging anyone else. With a proper UX delivered by an app like Calamari, all the processes can be smooth and seamless.

The traditional way

The employee needs to request leave using either a paper document or an email. The processing is done manually, consuming time and costing the effort of multiple employees, including the one who requests, the approvers who are bothered, and the leave specialist, who manages the process. Also, there is no automated way to check how many leave days there are and every such inquiry needs to be handled by the HR specialist.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Save time on errands - the employee who has a central point of managing the leaves, be that requesting one, approving, or checking the information on the remaining leave days, bothers not the HR team and gets his or her answers immediately;
  • Reducing stress and pressure - the uncertainty and mess associated with the traditional way of managing the leaves come as a burden for employees, who tend to invest much time in the leave process. This includes constant reminding about the leave or ensuring if everything got approved and processed. At least 41% of employees say that stress makes them less productive - reducing it by implementing reliable leave management software is cheap and effective.

Leave calendar available for everyone

The software solution like Calamari comes with a publicly available leave calendar that includes the upcoming leaves as well as the information about the current status - be that an unplanned sick leave or canceling the leave that was to be taken.

Traditional way

The traditional (and unluckily - still common) approach to leaves is that the supervisor, the employee, and the HR specialist know when one has a planned vacation or any other leave. Yet none of them has a full scope on the planned leaves, assuming the team is either big or distributed and decentralized.

By that, there can be multiple surprises on the way. For example, the employee can be engaged in multiple teams, with only one supervisor informed, or the team can just forget about the early-announced leave and mismanage the upcoming work.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Make the projects smooth by ensuring the access to crucial skills - having the single point of truth regarding the access to the skills and gaps in the access due to leaves comes as a powerful tool in project management and planning. Avoiding the mismatch is a great productivity boost by itself. On the other hand, building the culture of taking leave helps to avoid burnout and improves work satisfaction;
  • Building the credibility and transparency of the company and employees - the central repository of the planned leaves shows that every employee is treated equally and there are no “special ones” who get more or less leave days for seemingly no reason. Also, the signs of abusing the policy can be early spotted by literally anyone, discouraging the potential policy breakers.

Introduce the hybrid work

Hybrid work, widely introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of the greatest game-changers when it comes to employee productivity. Letting the employee work from home can lead to a 13% of productivity boost without literally anything else. On the other hand, though, the leaves combined with hybrid work can result in greater chaos.

The traditional way

When hybrid work is discouraged (or even prohibited) all the workplace-related disturbances are present. Also, being present in the workplace makes any disturbance like slight sickness or worse mood encouraging to take leave.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Less time off - if there is a clear policy of managing the leaves and time off, the number of days off can be reduced, and so that boosts productivity. According to CoSo data, home-based employees are up to 52% less likely to take a time off due to sickness or bad mood. Yet the key is to introduce the hybrid work without harming the time-off policy - and that’s where the time of the manager comes into play;
  • Employee directory - a sophisticated system like Calamari comes with a set of additional features including the employee directory, containing all knowledge about the team. This includes not only full-time members but also the supporters like freelancers. Through that, the project manager gets a glimpse of the availability of certain skills in the team and can handle the project with a distributed and non-centralized team;
  • Transparency - if there are no employees in the office, it can be challenging to determine if one is or is not at work. Having the leave management software working, this challenge is solved.

Integrations with core apps

Modern software like Calamari comes with many interesting integrations with popular business apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Jira, and Basecamp. This enables one to work in the way he or she finds the most comfortable and convenient.

The traditional way

The traditional way of taking a leave of absence is a standalone process with its own channels. Requests are processed independently and there are little to no ways to make it smoother or more efficient.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Don’t waste time on new apps - the challenge with adding any new component to the tech stack is that the team needs to be trained in using it. If there are integrations with existing, popular tools, for example, Slack, the need for a staff to be trained is significantly reduced;
  • Choose the most convenient way - also, the integrations enable one to pick the best way to request a leave. For many people, it would be Slack, yet the project manager may pick Jira and the HR team Microsoft Teams - whichever tool suits them best.

Analytics

Having a centralized and up-to-date system that stores the absence-related data enables the company to run some analytics in it. This data comes with great potential, ranging from spotting early signs of employee burnout and absenteeism to hints about new benefits or policies that would boost employee satisfaction.

The traditional way

In the traditional approach, the leave processing is either done offline or stored in a non-actionable format, for example as emails and prints. The whole “analytics” is done only if the HR specialist spots something on-the-go or recalls it from memory.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Reduce presenteeism and absenteeism - both presenteeism and absenteeism are visible in the leave data, especially when combined with the information about one’s productivity. Both situations are harmful to productivity and the overall company morale. Having them pinned at the early stage is the first step to tackling them effectively;
  • Improve the employee experience - some patterns in the absences show greater trends or tendencies in either the employee groups or the whole organization. Including these patterns either as perks or new policies can come as a great employee benefit. For example, instead of keeping the fiction of a sudden flu outbreak near holidays, it would be wiser to enable the employees to take a leave, yet with prior management of the work to be done;
  • End buddy punching - last but not least, the centralized system is a great tool to deal with abuses. Buddy punching is usually seen as a minor problem, yet it comes with great costs and productivity losses. The buddy punching is either impossible or easy to spot in the centralized system and by that, the productivity losses caused by it are properly addressed.

Automation

When the data is stored in an actionable way, there are many ways to automate processes. The dull and repetitive work is handled by the machines to free the resources and creativity of human employees.

Traditional way

In paper-based or email-based leave management, there are no ways of automation. All tasks need to be done manually by the leave management specialist. This costs time and effort and prevents one from doing more crucial tasks.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Save time on paperwork - with the automation applied by a sophisticated system like Calamari, the company enjoys multiple time savings. When stacked throughout the month, the time savings reach hours, which can be spent better by the HR specialist;
  • Reduce errors - machines make no mistakes and are tireless in their duties. The human employee can be tired or overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done. Mistakes caused by that need additional work to be corrected. Automation avoids this situation, further freeing the time of the employee;
  • Automate whole processes - when nearly all the process is self-serviced by the employees, the result is in the ready-to-go file, that can be used for example in payroll. With that, hours of work are saved by handling whole processes directly to the machines.

Build a culture of transparency and accountability

A system is only a tool - nothing more and nothing less. To make it work properly it needs a culture of transparency which is the key aspect of the leave management that delivers the results.

The traditional way:

The non-digital leave requests deliver multiple occasions for arbitrary and unsupervised decisions or even abuses. Only the HR team knows who and when can or cannot take a leave.

Productivity gains from the leave management system:

  • Leave policy - the system forces establishing a leave policy in the organization. Making it public and available shows transparency and that there are rules everyone follows - from CEO to intern.
  • Central information on abuses - the system is neutral, impossible to intimidate, and unbribable. By that, it delivers all the information about abuses, regardless of one's background or position;
  • The awareness regarding the rights - last but not least - the system provides one with clear information on rights one has or hasn’t. Knowing the rights is the first step toward benefiting from them.

Summary

Leave management is like a hidden web in the organization, having joints and strings in multiple places. At first glance, there are little to no connections between the issues described above, yet all they have in common is proper (or not proper) leave management.

If you wish to talk more about boosting productivity by applying better leave management, don’t hesitate to contact us now!

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