Considerations and Challenges: Implementing an Absence Management System
By Darlene E. Arroyo, RN, COHN-S
Sophisticated software programs and digital applications are emerging every day. So it’s no wonder that a strategic goal for many organizations is to enhance their technology to provide efficient employee customer service, enhance worker productivity, and control cost.
An absence management (AM) system is no exception, as implementing a state-of-the-art system can streamline the employee claim process, capture valuable data to evaluate organizational health trends, and provide program outcomes and return on investment (ROI). These are key components for a successful AM system.
While system enhancements can be appealing, they can also be challenging. When I was the Absence & Disability Manager for a global healthcare organization, our AM system implementation required that we include these key components, but we also had other challenges to consider. This article highlights our experience and features insight from recent interviews with two respected leave management professionals. Their comments add valuable information that expands the learnings from my own organization’s experience.
According to the 2017 Guardian Absence Management Index and Study, data and reporting are of most importance to large, sophisticated organizations, with two-thirds of such firms citing easier access to data and reporting as a major consideration in decisions to outsource their absence management program. The same study showed that access to self-service reporting capabilities rose from 54% in 2014 to 71% in 2016.1 Whether you outsource your program or manage it internally, data analytics is a top priority in determining company health trends and ROI. In addition, the 2017 DMEC Employer Leave Management survey indicated that functionality demands are more robust for larger employers (e.g., workflow tasks and letter/email templates), and attendance and payroll entries are more centralized via file feeds.2
I spoke with Trion Group consultant Christine Gerrick, who believes “system configurability is key: an absence management system must be able to accommodate new and complex plan designs and benefit payment calculation requirements and provide useful utilization metrics as well.”3
Let’s evaluate some key factors my organization considered in identifying and selecting our AM system.
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