Technology and Absence Management: A Robust Absence Management System
The Presagia team is thrilled to once again have the honor of contributing a column to each issue of this year's @Work Magazine, a publication by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). If you haven't had a chance to check out this excellent resource, we highly recommend that you do! DMEC provides best practice resources for our complex industry and @Work is one of many excellent resources that we always stay on top of!
This year's column, Technology and Absence Management, will focus on the technology that can help support a strong leave and accommodation management strategy. As we did with last year's Pillars of Leave Management series, we've created this blog series to share each of our 2019 columns with you! To kick things off, here is January's column which discusses the impact of absence management systems and complementary systems and resources.
A Robust Absence Management System
Many key technologies are impacting the world of absence management today, with even more on the horizon. As the 2017 DMEC Employer Leave Management Survey noted, “Companies with the bandwidth to manage leave internally are increasingly leveraging technology to assist them.”
At the core of employers’ leave management programs is the leave case management system. Such systems are primarily cloud-based and provide a centralized place to manage all leave case data, from an employee’s initial request through to their return to work. They include rules for federal and state leave laws and can usually incorporate employers’ leave policies.
Automated leave and absence management functions are key, as they enable leave case managers to focus their attention to less menial tasks, such as supporting employees who are returning to work. Comprehensive leave management systems generally have templates to auto-generate leave correspondence, workflow automation with alerts for when items such as medical certifications are due, and reporting to analyze the vast amount of leave data.
While these are the system of record for leave management, they are often complemented by other systems and resources, such as:
- Duration guidelines provide case managers with evidence-based research about recovery times for disabilities, injuries, and illnesses, and are available as online resources. They present the research in a simple format, enabling case managers to determine how long they can expect employees to be away from work and identify when a case might be at risk of falling outside the guidelines.
- A human resources information system (HRIS) ties together an employer’s HR, benefits, payroll, and other workforce management data. Most leave management systems will receive a demographics or census file feed from here to auto-update employee information, reducing redundant data entry.
- Time and attendance (or payroll) systems capture attendance data needed to determine things such as an employee’s average workweek for Family and Medical Leave Act calculations. Many employers also enter absences taken into this system, which supports calculation of leave entitlement. Most leave management systems accept a feed from these systems to auto-update information.
- Functional and job analysis tools can help identify a job’s essential functions. Some can produce reports and calculate job demands based on data collected by a practitioner, while others are limited to filling out and storing paper forms. Leave managers may leverage objective analyses of job functions to project the need for leave in high-risk positions, which can be used to reduce preventable absences. Job analyses may also be shared with healthcare providers as an accurate account of strain caused by an employee’s duties to support return-to-work planning.
- Leave law guides provide online summaries of leave laws to help leave managers with questions about specific laws. Some have logic built in so leave managers can enter information such as work site and type of leave to determine all applicable laws in that jurisdiction.
- Employee leave planning systems have an “employee-facing” design to help employees plan for an upcoming leave of absence. They provide broad information about the leaves available, benefits coverage, and any benefits costs employees might incur while on leave.
Supervisors need to review this information, too. Most major leave case management systems offer self-service features for them, and some provide automated emails to notify supervisors of key events so they don’t have to log into the system to stay current.
While many technologies touch upon absence management, those above are the most important in a leave manager’s work day. In 2019, look for markets to provide more employee-facing tools to better engage employees and help them request, review, and plan for leaves. Also, look for stronger integration between the many systems involved in the leave life cycle as technology vendors work to make integration more seamless.
Founded in 1987, Presagia has a long history of helping organizations solve complex business problems with easy-to-use solutions. Today, this means providing cloud-based absence management solutions that enable organizations to be more efficient, control lost time and risk, and strengthen compliance with federal, state and municipal leave and accommodation laws.