The Woes of Absence Management

The growing complexity of absence management in the pandemic has led employers to look to insurers for more integrated, turnkey solutions.


Keeping track of employees, an important function for corporate HR departments under normal circumstances, has been even more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight in 10 employers say the pandemic taught them the importance of absence management, according to a recent Guardian study.  

Further, state laws around regulated leave can change, and federal regulations are highly complex. Complying with related state and federal leave programs is one of the greatest absence management-related challenges your customers’ HR teams will ever face.  

Managing absences, especially using spreadsheets, is hard in the best of times, but has been doubly challenging during the pandemic, with some employees working remotely and others returning to the office. It’s no wonder HR teams are overburdened.

The growing complexity has led employers to look to insurers for more integrated, turnkey solutions. It has also served as a catalyst for insurers to develop automated absence management systems. Employers want to be in compliance, have up-to-date customer data, reduce the cost and time for HR departments and see real-time employee absence patterns and trends. For their part, employees want better tools for monitoring their attendance and tracking vacation time and related benefits. 

The new generation of automated absence management systems can help employers stay in compliance and track employee absences by connecting to a greater digital ecosystem of HR management systems. These systems also have the advantage of easily integrating with federal and state regulations or third-party vendors that monitor and update regulations as they occur. By bringing all these systems together, insurers can make reporting and data analysis easier for HR teams.

But not all absence management systems are created equal. Ease-of-use should be a given, but the following features are important to ask about:  

Employees providing input

Automation lets your customers’ employees schedule their own absences or log sick days. Claims that don’t meet eligibility requirements can be auto-rejected without the involvement of your customers’ HR teams.

Knowing what to expect

An absence management system should provide additional information and avenues to next-stage claims management. For example, your customers should be able to create a rule that a certain type of absence indicates whether physical therapy is likely in store for that employee, or if an absence related to an accident can help trigger a related claim. 

The importance of centralized data to spot patterns

When all employee data is in one place, absence patterns are easy to identify. Maybe your customer has an employee who is absent every second Friday, or an entire team is requesting vacation time the same week. Absence management software can help uncover patterns with tracking and reporting.

See also: Designing a New Employee Experience

Integrating changing regulations

Absence management systems should have the capability to integrate with third-party vendors that manage changing regulations to remain fully compliant with all federal and state regulations related to absence, including FMLA, disability and ADA. They should also have the ability to integrate with internal compliance systems. This feature, which is driven by the need for technology based on application programming interfaces (APIs), is a game-changer for organizations that run across multiple states.

A link to HR/health systems 

When absence management software links to HR management systems and health management software, it’s easy to monitor all the functions together in a single, seamless ecosystem, which is the ultimate goal.

Managerial efficiency

Finally, absence management software should allow managers to access all leave requests in a central place, ensuring appropriate coverage and deadline management.

Giving your customers the ability to add data and analytics and communicate across digital platforms is critical. Absence management software can do just that – collecting, managing, analyzing and reporting on important data and giving HR teams the information they need to maintain compliance, increase efficiency and reduce costs simultaneously.

Samantha Chow

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Samantha Chow

Samantha Chow is the global market lead for life, annuity and health with Capgemini.

She has over 20 years of experience in the life insurance, annuity and benefits industry. She has deep expertise in product development, pricing strategies, competitive intelligence, operational process improvement, underwriting, claims, policy administration and change management. Chow is focused on growing enterprise-wide capabilities for facilitating transformational and cultural change, digital transformation, improving the customer experience, innovation and competitive advancement.


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