The CEO’s Desk: Knowing the Numbers

DMEC Staff@Work

Knowing the Numbers

Knowing the Numbers

By Terri L. Rhodes, CLMS, CCMP, CPDM, MBA


With the theme of integrated absence management (IAM), it’s no accident that data is at the heart of nearly all the feature and spotlight articles in this issue of @Work magazine. The demands of managing a successful, integrated program mean monitoring program effectiveness, making adjustments along the way, and producing results. If you are responsible for an employer IAM program, or provide services to an employer, you know that data is the bonding agent.

Controlling absence has become a priority on many management agendas in recent years. Like many workforce initiatives, the ability to manage absence effectively is enhanced by accurate, timely, and accessible data.

Companies of all sizes have been using data analytics to seek out improvements, reduce costs, create efficiencies, make better and faster decisions, and ultimately increase employee productivity and satisfaction. The use of data analytics has the ability to drive fundamental change; however, it needs to be infused in an organization’s architecture from end to end to create a holistic approach. 

As IAM professionals, you use and analyze data to help you develop a benefits platform strategy and create or modify existing programs. And you’re aware that if there is a “secret sauce” to absence management, it’s knowing what numbers to watch. Is it days away from work, including lost productivity, overtime expense, turnover rates, or something else? It may, in fact, be different for each company. You need to find out what numbers are meaningful to your CEO and CFO and report on those numbers.

When you understand “the numbers”, you can identify the important issues impacting your workforce.  Only then can you shape your absence and well-being strategies effectively. This could mean training to minimize musculoskeletal problems, a new elder care program, or resources for line managers to identify stress or mental health concerns. Flexible work and rethinking absence policies can also be options.

In addition to knowing your numbers, here are a few strategies to help you manage your programs.

  • Look for patterns in the data, including higher levels of absence in a particular department or spikes in certain types of absence. Sometimes these patterns can mean you have a supervisor problem or work process issue.
  • Investigate instances where an employee has higher absence rates as this could be caused by illness or personal issues, which may require support.
  • While data can bring your absence program and strategy to life, its value is very much dependent on the culture of your organization. Create an open, supportive culture that enables employees to be honest about the reason they need time off.

And lastly, plan to join us at the 2018 DMEC Annual Conference, Aug. 6-9, in Austin, TX.  We have a full day of preconference workshops focused on benchmarking and data analytics to help you manage your programs.